Gone to Drift, by Diana McCaulay
first published in the UK in 2016; first US edition 2018 by HarperCollins
Lloyd is a young boy living in Kingston, Jamaica, where fishing has been the lifeline for generations of men in his family.
He lives with his mother, a hardworking woman who buys fresh fish at the harbor, then sells them to wealthy islanders. Lloyd’s “wut’less” father does not fish; he complains, drinks rum, and formulates big plans that never amount to anything. But his grandfather, Maas Conrad, is a skilled, deep-water fisherman and the anchor of Lloyd’s life.
Just now, however, Maas Conrad has gone missing. He’s overdue from a trip out to Pedro Bank, sixty nautical miles away, an underwater mountain as yet unspoiled, unpolluted, where the fishing is still good. It’s an unusual destination for Maas Conrad, a place shrouded in danger for locals who lack proper navigational equipment and radios. If they miss the spot in fog or storm, if they hit a reef…their chance of rescue is as slim as a fishing line.
Why isn’t anyone else in Lloyd’s world worried about Maas Conrad? How could a seasoned fisherman like his grandfather be adrift at sea? What was he doing at Pedro Bank in the first place? And what are his mother and father discussing in their late-night, furtive conversations?
As Lloyd seeks answers, as he perseveres in searching for his grandfather against all odds, he gains knowledge and appreciation for these fascinating Caribbean waters, and discovers dark truths about some people he thought he knew best.
Diana McCaulay grew up in Jamaica. Her knowledge and love of the island radiates from this tense, mysterious story, told in the alternate voices of Lloyd and Maas Conrad. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to strong readers, ages 10 and up. McCaulay employs a great deal of Jamaican patois which may cause less confident readers to stumble. Perfect beach read!