Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ten Degrees of Reckoning by Hester Rumberg

Ten Degrees of Reckoning is the true story of a family's love and the will to survive. In it, the Sleavin family set out to sail around the world. While on the journey, a tragic event leaves Judith, the mother, injured and alone in the ocean, after the rest of her family perishes. The story focuses on her rescue and survival as well as the horrific circumstances surrounding the sinking of their sailing vessel, the Melinda Lee.

Overall, I liked this book. The story was compelling and interesting enough to make me want to keep reading. I had to find out what happened to the Sleavins and I didn't want to put the book down until I did. I'm not a sailor, nor have I ever been sailing, so parts of the book were a little foreign to me. It was an appealing read, though, and I loved reading about the different places they visited and the people they met. I also learned a little about sailing, being on the ocean and travelling around the world.

While I really liked the first part of the book, I got totally lost when it came to maritime law, the lawsuit and the specifics of the accident. It didn't come across as clear or concise and I had a hard time figuring out what exactly happened. There were too many acronyms of acts, groups, agencies etc. that I'd not heard of before and really meant nothing to me. After awhile, it all sounded like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo and not very interesting.

Judith was amazing. Not everyone would act the way she did in those circumstances. I found it particularly interesting that she knew she had to tell her family's story, but didn't think she'd survive past that. Essentially, she survived because she didn't think she would.

The whole story was incredibly heartbreaking, but didn't move me to tears. I think had it been written by Judith, in the first person I may have found it more moving. As is, though, I felt detached, especially in the last part of the book. This is just an observation, not a criticism.

I loved that the author included some maps, especially since the family travelled to places I wasn't familiar with. I couldn't always find the locations talked about in the book, but I appreciated the maps nevertheless.

My second complaint is that the book made it appear as though Michael and the two children were saints and that the marriage between Judith and Michael was perfect. They had no disagreements or arguments. The children never cried, never acted inappropriately and never had to be disciplined. Some of that would have made this family more "normal". It also would have given me the sense that this could happen to me, my family or someone I know. It would made me care. I know that sounds really harsh, but as it was, I had a hard time imagining myself in their shoes.

Despite the problems I had with the book, I'd still recommend it to others, especially those looking for a true story or those who live near or on the water.

I borrowed this book from my friend, Karen.

For more information about this book, please visit Penguin's website.

Ten Degrees of Reckoning by Hester Rumberg, G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin), ©2007. ISBN 9780399155352(Hardcover), 254p.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds vaguely familiar, but don't remember where I heard about it. I'll keep an eye out for it at the library - sounds interesting. I'm actually glad it's not too "tear jerker" - the thought of losing your whole family at sea is pretty intense.

    Thanks for the review.


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