Just like a squall would churn the calm ocean waters into a swirling vortex of a nightmare, so is the reading of Sea Trials by Wendy Hinman. Mrs. Hinman, much like the Wilcox family, started this novel off with such great intentions. She had set out to tell a story, one of humor and terror, one of human indomitability and amazement. This book did indeed touch upon all of these areas, I must give credit, but it did so in such a way that it bore, rather than, enticed.
The technical sailing lingo weighed Sea Trials down significantly. I had to spend the majority of my time putting the book down just to look up what the terms all meant, just to be able to understand what Mrs. Hinman tried to present. The seemingly perpetual anecdotes of bad luck colored the novel as nothing more than a daily log of misfortune and bitterness. However, I must admit, the best parts of the book were the vivid descriptions of exotic locales and the multitudinous cultures that the Wilcox family got to experience first-hand. The brief glimpses into the history of the time period (Nixon, Watergate, the fighting between Egypt and Israel, etc.) also were respites to the constant downward attitudes that afflicted both the Wilcox family and myself. One main issue I had with Sea Trials is the random mentions of the cockroaches. There was no mentioning of how they came to be aboard the Vela, but the haphazardly thrown tidbits about their appearances became like an overdone joke, not completely thought out and tiresome.
Overall, Sea Trials was a good book, but it did very little to impress me. Perhaps a boating enthusiast would appreciate it more, but anyone who is not at least somewhat familiar with sailing will find this book lacking in depth.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
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