West Coast Editor reviews Sneaker Wave

Written by Jeff Beamish, 2013, Oolichan Books; Reviewed by Corinne Smith

They’re called sneaker waves because they appear without warning, running high up onto the beach with sometimes deadly force; they are an apt metaphor for the unpredictable ways in which the lives of the characters in this novel are affected by their choices.

Sneaker Wave, set in the Pacific Northwest, is a story about friendship, loss and regret. When we first meet them, the four main characters are just 17 and about to finish high school. One night they take over an abandoned house and invite their friends over to party. A neighbour comes to break it up and leaves in an ambulance, unconscious and in critical condition. Only Brady Joseph and his three friends know the horrible truth. Their code of silence keeps them out of jail and connected long after the incident, despite the divergent paths their lives take.

The police think Luke did it; he’s a bad apple with nothing to lose. Luke thinks Brady will cave, but then Luke isn’t used to anyone standing up for him because everyone in his life has failed him. Sam seems to be along for the ride, and any old ride will do. Sarah is Brady’s girlfriend and the daughter of a prominent doctor who doesn’t trust Brady, not that it matters to Sarah. She is a tough girl and a rebel without a cause. Brady seems like a good kid who has made some bad choices, including the company he keeps.

Are they credible characters? Mostly, yes. Are they likeable? Not so much. But maybe that’s part of what makes this story work, along with its tightly drawn plot.

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