Reviewer David W. Menefee: David is a Pulitzer nominated American author, ghost writer, screenwriter, book editor, and film historian. David’s career began as a writer and marketing representative for the Dallas Times Herald and the Dallas Morning News. His books have appeared under various imprints and in a variety of categories, such as biography, travel, historical fiction, mysteries, and romance. Two books by David were named among the 2011 Top 10 Silent Film Books of the Year: Wally: The True Wallace Reid Story, and The Rise and Fall of Lou-Tellegen. His most recent releases include Sweet Memories and the 1950s romance trilogy, Can't Help Falling in Love, Come Away to Paradise, and Catch a Falling Star (with co-author Carol Dunitz). David lives in Dallas, Texas, USA.
Author: John Otterbacher
Author: John Otterbacher
Since earning his
doctorate in clinical psychology, John Otterbacher has taught
college, served as a State Representative and Senator, worked as a
psychotherapist, and gone sailing a few times. Ride the waves of his
life with the third edition of his first novel. Critiquing an
emerging author by his first work can be unfair, and nearly all
authors later wish they could rewrite their first works. As-is,
Sailing Grace has pleased many readers.
Sailing Grace chronicles the author's battles with heart ailments, fighting back to the surface, and sailing on with a boat named “Grace.” The book begins with John writing in an odd, first person, present tense style about events that happened in the past. This style carries through the entire book:
“There is nothing
romantic about this heaviness in my chest. I pause at the top of the
stairs, reaching for breath. I ought to call my physician. A ten-day
regimen of antibiotics would probably do the trick.”
Once readers accept this style of retelling the past as if the events are unfolding in the present, Sailing Grace will take you on a long journey including pointed details about his unfortunate trials and tribulations with his heart. We read about him flat on his back in a local health club, and then follow through to thirty-one months and 4,000 miles later, when he and his family begin plans to maneuver their sailboat to Schull Harbor, Ireland.
The big journey begins
with John’s decision to survive and live out his long-standing
dreams while he still can. He and his wife have five years to
prepare, save money, and embark on a globe-spanning adventure. They
had sailed before, and hope to sail again despite John’s health
Those health issues take up more than half the book. If you enjoy reading about heart malfunctions, medical technology, blood tests, blurry-eyed third shifters, the swoosh of the room’s privacy curtain, nitroglycerin paste, needles, urgent but hushed phone calls, cardiologist’s prognoses, and surgeries, you will be enthralled. If you prefer reading about sailing adventures, you will have to wait until nearly a hundred pages into the book, when John recalls his first boat and riding the waves on their first trip. John also recalls another prior sea journey setting sail from Saint Thomas to New York in April 1990. Fifty more pages into the book, he finds himself back in a hospital emergency room practically on the eve of their big departure on Grace. Some readers will truly identify with his family and their desire to simply sail where they have not been, out beyond what they know. They hope for luck, the chance to finally put some ocean under them, and to “wake up in some beautiful places.”
The following months take
them sailing down the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and
Georgia, eventually making their way to Florida and Singer Island.
Then, trouble strikes.
“I swing Grace back toward the swells. They are riding each other to alarming proportions now, occasionally breaking. Dan sheets in the main, tries to buy us momentum to face the onslaught. Grace lurches forward, shuddering when she’s hit, then wallowing on. I have never seen so many squalls, storms within a storm, one after another, unrelenting. We are going to run you aground, grind you to bits.”
Along their difficult but
determined journey, John suffers more hospital visits, but his desire
to survive, sail, and discover meaning to life engages his
imagination and spurs him and his family to finally embark on the
biggest journey of all: crossing the Atlantic to Ireland.
Sailing Grace won accolades as a finalist for a Best Book Award, USA Book News Winner, and a Michigan Notable Book Award. The story spans 254 pages, and features back matter including a Glossary of Nautical Terms, an Epilogue, an About the Author and Crew page, Acknowledgments, and John’s final Note to the Reader. Visit www.sailing-grace.com for more information. The book is available in both hard cover and paper back editions.
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