Reviewed by Marcus Hammond
In Erin Healy’s Afloat, a large group of people becomes stranded on a developing condominium complex after a series of man-made and natural disasters cut of all their routes of escape. The power of forgiveness and love is contrasted with the power of selfishness and greed as the group tries to escape and survive the uncertainty of the situation.
The central character of the story is Vance Nolan. Vance is the architect of the Eagle’s Talon condominium complex. Eagle’s Talon is meant to be the first floating condo resort. The buildings are designed to float on steel support beams in the waters of a quiet cove. Chaos soon enters Vance’s life when one of the docks suddenly breaks apart and falls into the cove. Vance’s dream of creating something wonderful begins to fall apart as his project financier begins to push for Vance to lay off his workers in response to the accident. Before that happens, however, rain moves in and creates an end of the world scenario for all those working and living at the site. With all escape routes flooded, each person stranded in the cove begin to show their true colors. Some of the people who are stranded wish to help each other wait out the catastrophe, while others seek self-preservation.
Afloat is a complex tale of human emotion that links directly into the power of spirituality. For Vance, the catastrophe brings a flood of early childhood memories while others try to figure out how to survive at any cost, human or emotional. Each character is faced with physical, emotional, and spiritual danger; however, it is faith in God that helps those who survive find strength.
While the novel is strongly rooted in the Christian inspiration style of writing, Healy does a great job of making the struggles Vance and the other characters face feel universal. God and faith are ever-present as certain characters experience a divine force working within the group, but each action and reaction to whatever new adversity arises is entirely human and believable. The emotions portrayed are believable even for a reader who is not a fan of the genre.
The one problem with the novel could be seen in Healy’s narrative strategy. During the chaos of the multiple catastrophes that occur on Eagle’s Talon, Healy breaks the action to develop Vance’s character. As Vance’s childhood and adolescent experiences are expanded on the quick pace of the narrative is slowed to a crawl. While the back-story is important to the overall narrative, it may seem like it could have been organized differently.
After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas Nelson. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.