Boat Girl: a swashbuckling read

Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love & FiberglassBoat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love & Fiberglass by Melanie Neale

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Received a galley copy from NetGalley.
I was drawn to Boat Girl when I saw that it was available because I’m drawn to all things sailing, for a start. Much of it I read aloud on road trips with my husband, but I read the last third or so on my own in the interest of finishing for review.
Boat Girl is a very interesting read, and I enjoyed being immersed in the author’s unique childhood and growing up as she lived her life on sailboats, experiencing a flow of annual rhythms and gypsy wanderings most of us miss out on.
I could relate to the boatish bits; the call of the wind, the delight in the silence and magic of being under sail, but also the realities of mildew, of boat maintenance, of dangers. Sailing is a passion my husband and I enjoy on a much smaller scale, in our home waters of the Puget Sound.
I could also relate to the teen worries, thinking of how my students navigate the tricky waters of adolescence (yes, I know it’s a pun, but it fits fine) and how they come out the other side. Neale struggled with with bulimia, and with her parents’ harsh judgments of her behaviors as a young teen; she is frank about the effects on her, and on the ways she got through difficult periods in her life. She is unapologetic about her choices, yet still avoids laying blame solely on others for the bad stuff, which is refreshing. It occurs to me that I’ve read very little memoir geared toward teens, but I feel that this book would have wide appeal. I gave it three stars simply because I’ve nothing much to compare it to. I enjoyed a glimpse into a growing up which seemed very different from my own, but with similarities that reminded me of how much the same we are, on the inside.
I’m excited to offer the middle grade version of Neale’s story, Boat Kid: How I Survived Swimming with Sharks, Being Homeschooled, and Growing Up on a Sailboat to my students (due to mature content, Boat Girl falls firmly in the YA category), and I’ll be interested to hear what they have to say. A couple of them are sailors, so it’s bound to give us another touch point for conversation.

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About vst3in

I am a writer, avid reader, library techie, birder and runner. I make felt and teach others. I love colors and textures and birds and books. I'm working on a historical novel and reading lots of books for young people. I am running to get stronger, and I sail with my husband. This blog contains thoughts about all these things.
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