Book Review: St. Joseph and the Sea

These are among the topics author Daniel Chiasson covers in his thought-provoking novel “St. Joseph and the Sea.” It’s available on Amazon.com, either in paperback or Kindle versions, and on the Barnes and Noble website.

Chiasson, 45, is a commercial fisherman who works as a crew member or sternman on various boats in a variety fisheries in Scituate, Mass. and nearby Cohasset. He’s also a student of writing at the Harvard Extension School and Grub Street in Boston. He wrote the novel under the guidance of Harvard professor and Pulitzer prize winning author Paul Harding, (“Tinkers”) and Academy Award winning author Ernest Thompson. (“On Golden Pond”).

The coastal town of Scituate is Chiasson’s hometown. It’s home to an active fishing fleet, and its fishing heritage, tradition and colorful characters influenced Chiasson. The novel is based on his experience in his early 20s working as a sternman on gillnetters that plied the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Massachusetts Bay from Scituate Harbor.

The book’s protagonist, Mordecai Young, seeks redemption and a way of life when he embarks on a career as a commercial fisherman. The greenhorn’s learning curve is steep, and he experiences plenty of the dangers the fishing life offers — at sea and ashore. But he also discovers friendships and the allure of fishing.

The novel contains plenty of fishing action and rich details about the fishing life. What keeps the reader turning the page is seeing how Mordecai responds to adversity, how he learns from mistakes and begins to figure out what he wants from life and what kind of man he wants to be. That makes “St. Joseph and the Sea” well-worth reading.

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