Matt and John are best friends working out in Montauk for the summer. When Driana, JoJo and Stef invite the boys to their Hamptons mansion, Matt and John find themselves in a sticky situation where temptation rivals sensibility. The newfound friends head out into the Atlantic after midnight in a stolen boat. None of them come back whole, and not all of them come back. Scholastic, 2015.
* Publishers Weekly (starred): In a terrifying survival story in which past traumas are as visceral and intense as present circumstances, five teenagers try to stay alive after becoming lost off the Atlantic coast. Raised in a blue-collar neighborhood in Queens, friends Matt and John are working in Montauk, N.Y., for the summer when they meet 17-year-old Driana Gonzaga, her Brazilian cousin Estefania, and Estefania’s boyfriend, João. After Estefania attempts some daring night surfing, the other teenagers attempt to rescue her in a small, ill-equipped boat; engine problems soon strand them. Griffin (Burning Blue) gives his characters just enough know-how to keep them from being completely helpless, but the situation is clearly beyond their control. Police emails and other communications provide brief respites from the rapidly degrading situation on the boat. Profound moments such as when Matt realizes that the “cruel” sun “was just being what it was. A mindless, merciless star that would shine on whatever got in its way” will haunt readers as much as the lethal injuries, worsening weather, class friction, and psychological instability the teenagers face. Ages 12–up.
Kirkus Reviews: Two buddies who have been through trauma together before find themselves with three relative strangers out on the open Atlantic, where survival becomes extremely uncertain. Matt and John work at a state park, where they meet the three, and are working-class in a way that the others don’t understand. Stolid John is mechanically minded and still suffers from the death of his father years earlier. Matt is determined to get into Yale and puts his energy toward saving and studying with that goal in mind. Dark, dreadlocked Driana is visiting the park with her cousin Estefania and Stef’s boyfriend, João. The latter two are from Rio de Janiero and have a carefree aura of entitlement—though Stef was adopted from the favelas by Driana’s uncle after her mother was gunned down in front of her. Griffin explores their individual psychologies and interactions with nuance. Stef has a reckless streak, and her sudden jaunt on a windsurfer leads the others into danger as they go to her aid with a small, open boat. With no radio or gear for the open sea, the craft offers little help for survival as hours, then days pass, the pressures mounting on each in ways designed to test their limits. While the danger is real, the book’s at its most riveting as the characters interact and implode. This fast-paced survival adventure makes an excellent crucible for Griffin’s examination of class.