Verdict: HAULING THROUGH is a quirky coming-of-age tale with an honest small town setting.
A college graduate becomes part of a tight-knit lobstering community in Maine where a mysterious satellite lurks overhead, in this mysterious slice-of-life story.
College graduate Jamie Kurtz is down on his luck, searching for a fresh start when he lands in the coastal town of Kestrel Cove, Maine. Offered a job for the summer working on a lobster boat, Jamie is pushed into an unfamiliar world ruled by long days full of backbreaking, exhausting work. To his surprise—and that of his employer—Jamie endures both the physical labor and good-natured teasing to earn his place. Acclimating to Kestrel Cove’s community of residents is another matter entirely; one that baffles Jamie in his quest to find a sense of belonging. He makes friends, enemies, and even finds love—but he also discovers the town’s odd superstition: a Russian spy satellite that hovers overhead every night.
Though a coming-of-age story about a confused twenty-something trying to figure out his way in life is not a new exploration in fiction, HAULING THROUGH’s offering to the genre comes with its own brand of quirkiness. Bridgford’s seaside lobstering community is rendered in vivid, realistic detail, thanks to the author’s direct knowledge of the unique culture of Maine fishermen. The account is unflinching in its dialogue and characterizations; the crass language is, at times, tiresome but lends itself to the grit and authenticity of its more abrasive characters. Jamie is a likable-enough protagonist. An academic with a penchant for quoting historical figures from the Civil War, he finds himself tossed amongst the hardscrabble, blue collar residents who nickname him “college boy.” Eventually, he finds a kinship in a fellow intellectual named Bill Hand, the town’s wealthy recluse. While Jamie’s relationships with Kestrel Cove’s fishermen become familial, his bond with Bill is one of mentorship, which makes for an interesting dynamic. Jamie becomes assimilated into the town’s odd culture through a series of sometimes bizarre incidents that highlight just how offbeat and closely bound small communities can be.
Humorous events provide some relief from the novel’s glimpses into the dire side of this run-down tourist summer haven. The novel’s more explicit and violent scenes are, however, not for the faint of heart. While it makes for a good hook, the Russian spy satellite subplot is disappointing in its execution. It never feels as ominous as the characters claim. It seems more like an afterthought, mentioned so rarely that it’s almost forgettable until it becomes a major focus in the last act.
HAULING THROUGH is a quirky coming-of-age tale with an honest small town setting. ~IndieReader