Lobster, cops and lacrosse: That’s how Adam White opens up his first novel, “The Midcoast.” Throwing readers directly into the story’s climax, White leaves them wondering, “What in the world is going on?”
Compared to The Great Gatsby by some critics, “The Midcoast” explores the struggles of the American Dream through the story of the Thatches, a lobster family who live in Damariscotta, Maine.
The book is written from the point of view of Andrew, a Damariscotta native, who is perplexed by the Thatch’s wealth and success after he returns to his hometown to settle down with his wife. He wonders how Ed Thatch, a stubborn lobsterman, can climb the social and economic ladder so quickly and with much success. After finding himself amidst the climax of the fall of the Thatches, he becomes obsessed with piecing together their story.
White uses a unique narrative style to introduce the stories and lives of Ed and Steph Thatch and their children, EJ and Allie, through an almost journalistic lens. The story unfolds to the reader as Andrew collects stories from friends of the Thatches, Steph herself, as well as his own personal observations and experiences.
Described as “propulsive” and named Editor’s Choice by Lee Cole of the New York Times, this non-chronological and eclectic narration leaves the reader waiting for an answer right up to the end of the book.
Although the book pushes forward, it is worth reading for its content in the middle, not for its abrupt and anti-climatic ending.
Below the story’s surface lies the division between wealth and poverty on Maine’s coastline.
If one drives Route One down the coast of Maine, they’ll see big and extravagant houses that overlook the water juxtaposed with smaller homes, sometimes falling apart and usually needing a new paint job. As portrayed in “The Midcoast,” an undeniably large wealth division exists along the coast. In these areas, lobstermen are stuck working long hours on their boats to get by, and out-of-staters decide to buy their second, third, or maybe even fourth house on the coast of Maine, where they go to vacation for the summer.
Stuck as a lobsterman and faced with raising a family, Ed Thatch is determined to do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones and to give his children the most he can. His struggles as he tries to protect, provide and love for his family are on full display through the perspective of Andrew.
“The Midcoast” is an intriguing read for anyone familiar with Maine. White draws from his own experiences growing up on the coast to weave together a tragic narrative of a family trying to achieve more than they can.
This book can be purchased at most bookstores in the Bangor/Orono area and is also available to borrow at the Orono Public Library.