Think: wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald… kind of

Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye
This book snuck up on me. During the first few pages, I was feeling a little bit iggis, and then the really bad stuff started and I was in.
Here’s the bad stuff: Noah’s elderly father, Olaf, is dying, and so Noah returns to northern Minnesota to be with him during his final days.
More bad stuff: Thirty-some-odd years earlier, Olaf was one of only three survivors of a Lake Superior ship disaster. (Oh, I love reading about the ship wrecks!)
So, while it seems that Olaf—once big and powerful—is now weak due to his age and illness, we learn that he has been a broken man for decades, ever since the ship’s foundering.
And that has meant that Olaf has not been much of a father to Noah, who, as a boy, admired his father, anyway—and who, as an adult, has avoided him due to his instability.
But, during the weeks they spend together, Olaf tells his son the full story of his ship’s sinking, and, without anything getting all treacly or nauseating—and mercifully without actually saying the words—they forgive each other for their failures as father and son. Thank goodness it’s all too raw to be at all heartwarming. (I hate heartwarming.)
I discovered this book via the National Reading Group Month list, and I’m glad I did.