In this novel the pace is swift, the plot is involving, and character development is thorough. Coincidence—as story facilitation—is relatively minimal. There is candor in the way the heroine feels about herself, her increasingly escalating problems, and the dysfunctional family she can distance herself from physically, but not emotionally. Plus there is a lyrical, almost mystical homage to surfing, sailing, and the sea itself. Participants in this tale are never far from its enticing allure.
On the outside, Dana is the epitome of the California girl—golden hair, lithe body, athletic, intelligent, independent. On the inside, she’s emotionally ensnared by family ties both past and present. Her mother committed suicide. Her father was and is still a distant disciplinarian. One brother angrily fends for himself, while another continually struggles with drug addiction. Dana tries to lose herself in her career as a journalist but refuses to stop trying to save the sibling who can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble or danger. Now, he’s become entangled with ruthless gangs and relentless FBI agents. This time, saving him from himself will plunge Dana into an undertow of mayhem and murder.
Doler’s style is crisp. She has a deft touch with contemporary dialogue. Her descriptive passages of surfing combine just enough jargon with vibrant verbs to bring the sport exuberantly to life. Writing virtually the entire novel in the present tense, she is able to maintain a sense of continuous movement that drives the narrative forward. However, this ongoing sense of immediacy occasionally makes diversions into backstory feel more like tangential speed bumps, and less like necessary illumination. Still, readers up for a wet, wild ride will likely feel rewarded.