The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger is a fascinating book that should stay in the curriculum. The book provides a highly detailed account of a storm that places readers in the center of the storm. Though the descriptions of fishing procedures and equipment are often confusing, they are a vital part of the plot. Without these details, readers would not be able to picture the dangers of the storm the way Junger wanted them to.
The book is riveting, but never melodramatic. There is just enough tension in the conflict between man and nature to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Junger never tries to saturate his readers with so much emotion that they roll their eyes in disgust. He makes the fear and desperation realistic and believable. Often it is so genuine that it is hard to put the book down.
Junger achieves a delicate balance between the factual and fictional elements of the story. The front cover immediately lets readers know that The Perfect Storm is a true story. Junger?s characters are extremely well developed. It becomes unimportant whether or not Junger may have exaggerated a little about a character?s experiences. Readers sympathize with Christina Cotter and fear for Bobby Shatford. The thoughts and emotions of every character are stunningly real.
The book does not neglect to include the women who fish. Linda Greenlaw is the captain of the Hannah Boden. The boat brings in the most fish on the coast. There is also Karen Stimpson, known to be one of the most experience sailors around. Sue Bylander is also a sailor and works with Stimpson as a graphic designer in-between fishing seasons. None of the three women are depicted as weak or hysterical during the storm. On the contrary, it is Ray Leonard, the captain on the ship with Stimpson and Bylander, that falls apart during the crisis. Greenlaw, Stimpson, and Bylander are strong and capable of taking care of themselves.
The book is littered with explanations about fishing. I admit that I frequently got lost in these passages but it was worth it. This knowledge is an integral element of the story. When a component of the boat malfunctions, readers know the significance of this to the sailors. Without this, the book would have provided a message that only other sailors can understand. Junger, by supplying this information, wants to make sure that all readers can fully grasp the danger and suspense of the book.
Unlike most books that are based on a true story, The Perfect Storm is neither dull nor corny. There are no clich? moments in the book that would make one?s skin crawl. The fact that it is a true story only serves to make it even more powerful. This book is a classic page-turner though this is not a book I would read again. Battling the ?Halloween Gale? vicariously through the character?s lives once is enough to last me a lifetime.
The Perfect Storm has the potential to teach high school students many of the values that seem to have been lost over the years. Courage, teamwork, and respect for nature are all important themes in the book. The characters in the book have all learned something about themselves because of this storm. Students, after reading about these experiences, may learn to value the important things in life, and not the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger merchandise that seems to be ubiquitous in the hallways.