Occasionally, you get a splendid surprise, and Dawn C. Crouch’s novel, “Against The Wind: Jane-Claire’s Personal Salvation,” was such a surprise. In fact, it is a precious little gem. It possesses all the ingredients that make a book special, and one that I could not put down. First and foremost, it possesses the most important ingredient that I look for in any book, great characters, and no character is more wonderful than Jane-Claire. She is a fifteen year old teenager. She keeps a journal, and is an aspiring filmmaker whose video camera chronicles the life around her and the life she imagines. She is the personification of so many teenagers, I have known having lived in Los Angeles for most of my life and at one time dreaming of being a filmmaker. The real beauty of this wonderful character is the reader never doubts that she is a teenager, even as the world comes tumbling down upon her family, herself, friends, and the beach side community she lives in. It is the same with her brother Lerue, a senior in high school, who is a superb athlete and is applying for scholarships to colleges more at the urging of his parents because like a teenager he has no problem putting things off. Their mother, father, and friends are also vividly portrayed.
The story starts off with the impending approach of a devastating hurricane, and the reader is almost led to believe that, like in so many predictable movies and books that the story is going to center around the heroic attempts of the family trying to survive such a disaster, but guess again. The hurricane strikes and it is devastating in every way possible, wiping out the community they live in and killing many citizens and injuring many others. This all takes place at the beginning of the book, and it is the aftermath of such devastation and witnessing a family that seemed to have everything suddenly struggling to survive both emotionally and physically… Depending on the help of strangers for shelter and food and the desperate attempt to keep the family together as it seems to be breaking about.
Ms. Crouch’s writing is clear and lucid, and there is no doubt in this reader’s mind that the author lived through such a devastating hurricane and suffered the aftermath. Her descriptions are poignant, the characters are real, and there is never a moment in this gem of a book that I felt that the emotions being displayed were anything but real. I highly recommend.