Verdict: THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN is a sweet, if sometimes saccharine, story of first love. While its plot is a bit light, the book is well-paced with characters readers can’t help but root for.
THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN centers on a Latino-American football player attending an elite private school on Long Island in the 1980s. His working class background and ethnicity put him in the minority among his classmates, but none of that matters when he falls in love with Calista “Callie” Christos, the daughter of a Greek tycoon. As their relationship deepens, so does the knowledge that Callie’s father would not approve of the match. Can their love defy the odds?
THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN is a teenage romance, but will strike a chord of nostalgia with those who lived through the 1980s, as well as anyone who has ever been in love. The love between the main characters is sweet, if a bit sudden to be believable, but this, too, recalls the whirlwind of a high school romance. Author Phillip Vega’s writing style is accessible and flows quite easily, making THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN a breezy and lighthearted read.
The bulk of the novel is a flashback with the protagonist recalling his senior year of high school. This is an effective literary device, planting us firmly in the narrator’s memories. The primary appeal of THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN is in the romance between the narrator (whose name is not revealed until the final pages) and Callie. Beyond that, its pages are a bit light on plot. There is plenty of potential for conflict, but most of the problems faced by the narrator turn out to be blown out of proportion and easily resolved (as many teenage “crises” are wont to do).
While there is friction between Callie’s father and her boyfriend, the conflict does not come to a head until the book’s closing chapters. Likewise, the themes of racism and classism are underdeveloped. The problems that seem like they will truly challenge the main character, such as his father losing his job, quickly fade into the background in favor of the story’s romance. This prevents THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN from being a true coming-of-age story, as we don’t see much character growth in the protagonist aside from the development of his romantic feelings.
Nonetheless, THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN is a sweet story of first love. Minor editing errors exist, but are not frequent enough to pose a distraction. Its diverse cast of characters is well-rounded, and the portrayal of teenage life is realistic. THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN might not have a lot of depth, but it is an entertaining and clean read, suitable for both teenagers and adults.
THE CAPTAIN & THE QUEEN is a sweet, if sometimes saccharine, story of first love. While its plot is a bit light, the book is well-paced with characters readers can’t help but root for.
~Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon for IndieReader