SAFE FROM THE SEA
An archetypal story of a father and son in a setting that casts a spell over the characters, as well as the reader.
Set against the powerful lakeshore landscape of northern Minnesota, Safe from the Sea is a heartfelt novel in which a son returns home to reconnect with his estranged and dying father thirty-five years after the tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat that the father only partially survived and that has divided them emotionally ever since. When his father for the first time finally tells the story of the horrific disaster he has carried with him so long, it leads the two men to reconsider each other.
Meanwhile, Noah’s own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, whose complications with infertility have marked her husband’s life in ways he only fully realizes as the reconciliation with his father takes shape.
Peter Geye has delivered an archetypal story of a father and son, of the tug and pull of family bonds, of Norwegian immigrant culture, of dramatic shipwrecks and the business and adventure of Great Lakes shipping in a setting that simply casts a spell over the characters as well as the reader.
“This deeply moving, powerfully realized debut novel, an estranged father and son find reconciliation in the final week of the father’s life…Geye tackles the subjects of death, dying, and living with admirable insight and courage…Geye engages the complexities of family dynamics skillfully and handles especially well the kind of family grudges and misunderstandings that can cripple relationships for decades, as they do here. Inspiring, wise, and enthusiastically recommended for all readers.” —Library Journal
“Geye is a skilled and subtle observer. Throughout the book, readers are given an affectionate and perceptive view of roughhewn northern Minnesota, not only its Walden-esque lakes and forests, but also its thrifty and honest people…Geye is a gifted storyteller…Geye might wince to read this, but he could be a first-rate adventure novelist. He also excels in creating characters who are ordinary and exceptional at the same time—high praise for any author. The characters in Safe from the Sea are maturely-crafted; there are no heroes or villains in the book, just good people working through tough issues with grace and good humor.” —The New York Journal of Books
“Safe from the Sea is small in scope but substantial, on all levels, in its impact. It is a thing of beauty; a lesson in the ineffable power of story to take us out of ourselves and bring us to a place we never knew but recognize all the same.” —Bookslut.com
“A finely crafted first novel…Give this book to readers of David Guterson and Robert Olmstead, who will be captured by the themes of approaching death and the pain and solace provided by nature.” — Booklist
“[A] lyric story of familial strife and reconciliation . . . Geye excels at capturing the importance of life’s seemingly small moments and at cataloging their beauty . . . Geye shows how relationships—however flawed the participants—can be salvaged and strengthened when people strive to make things work through understanding and the search for and sharing of the truth.” —ForeWord Magazine
“Safe From the Sea is Peter Geye’s fine debut, a deep hearted novel of bitten lives lived out on the cold shore of a ferocious world. In the silence of their existence, the dignity of their bearing, Geye compassionately renders the magnitudes of their despair, endurance and greatness.” —Robert Olmstead
“A reader can just about feel the cold spray of Lake Superior and taste the softness of the lefse. . . . The best sections of Safe From the Sea are the stories Olaf tells, and the questions Noah asks, especially about the tragedy of the Ragnarøk. What we expect from a man vs. nature story is not that man will win, but that man will be wise and valiant, and give it everything he has. Olaf’s account of the wreck lives up to the great tradition of adventure storytelling. His pain about the shipwreck is not only survivor’s angst, but also specific guilt about a lost shipmate that he has never shared before…. Olaf’s last wish presents Noah with a watery physical challenge of his own, and gives the back end of the novel a touch of fairy tale, a la late John Cheever.” —The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“We sometimes love our silent fathers through the hard work they do. Peter Geye has written a novel suffused with a son’s love and darkened by the rough storms of a sailing father’s affection and absence. Safe from the Sea is a beautiful book—all shipwreck and rescue.” —Alyson Hagy
“I don’t know of another novel that better captures that stormy North Atlantic up in Minnesota called Lake Superior than Peter Geye’s compelling debut novel, Safe from the Sea. He captures the wildness and the cold and braids those figurative aspects into a tenderly told story of a son and a father who has been anything but tender. The artful merging of a story of relationships with a riveting sea tale has been the formula for many memorable books, and Peter Geye has made it fresh here and kept it memorable.” —Stuart Dybek
“I was thrilled to discover the work of Peter Geye. Besides being a page-turning delight, his book is beautifully written, and the relationship between Noah and Olaf is one of the greatest father and son stories I’ve ever come across. This is a stunning novel, and Peter Geye is a special writer, whose voice is like no one else’s. I hope we hear from him again, and soon.” —Steve Yarbrough
“Peter Geye has rendered the Minnesota north shore in all its stark, dangerous beauty, and it is the perfect backdrop for this deeply moving story of conflict and forgiveness. Safe from the Sea is a remarkable debut.” —Ron Rash