Latitudes Book Review and Interview with Author Anthony Caplan

Title: Latitudes

Author: Anthony Caplan

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Hope Mountain Press

Release Date: June 2012

Format: Kindle/Paperback

Pages: 223 pages

About the Book:

A coming of age novel about a boy overcoming divorce and cultural dislocation. When Father and Mother, a high-flying young American lawyer and his party-hard bride, fall prey to the self-destructive lure of alcohol and sexual liberation, Will and his sisters pay the price in divorce and kidnappings that take them back and forth between the rain forest hideaways of coastal Latin America and the placid suburbs of Long Island. Will identifies with the oppressed workers laboring in his father’s fast food restaurant and longs for American freedom. Father remarries the daughter of a local aristocrat, and Will is sent off to the hothouse world of a New England boarding school. Swimming in a sea of Fair Isle sweaters and LL Bean boots, Will discovers a core of resilience in himself that allows him to survive, thrive, and ultimately embrace the flawed and varied worlds he inhabits. Will reconnects with Mother, sinking into a New York City world of Irish bars and one night stands he cannot save her from. With a little help from friends, and a high school Shakespeare class taught by the school’s closeted gay athletic trainer, Will begins to see the possibility of finding his true path. Latitudes charts the birth pangs of a quest for self and soul – from a tropical childhood to a coming of age on the road.

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My Review

Latitudes is a very intense story of childhood and family relationships, and how, as we get older, those relationships change.

Our family recently went through the trauma of a foreclosure and move, all at the same time my youngest was graduating high school.  One thing Art and I kept reminding each other and the children was “we still have each other.”  That stability of our family staying together really helped us all to make it through that rough time.

In the book, Will struggles throughout his childhood, bouncing back and forth between Venezuela and the U.S. with the need to belong somewhere, to some group.  His parents divorce and custody fight only serves to complicate this feeling more.  As Will says:

“When the world is broken for a child, the adults who have done the breaking are rarely in a position to do the gluing.”

And Will’s parents: his mother seeking solace in alcohol and one night stands; his father busy with a new wife and babies, were certainly not the ones to put the family back together.

The poignancy of childhood set in the time period of the 1970’s, mixed with the unusual circumstances of an international upbringing make this a story not to be missed.

My rating of Latitudes: 4 globes!!!!

About the Author:

Anthony Caplan is an independent writer, teacher and homesteader in northern New England. He has worked at various times as a shrimp fisherman, environmental activist, journalist, taxi-driver, builder, window-washer, and telemarketer, (the last for only a month, but one week he did win a four tape set of the greatest hits of George Jones for selling the most copies of Time-Life’s The Loggers.) Currently, Caplan is working on restoring a 150 year old farmstead where he and his family tend sheep and chickens, grow most of their own vegetables, and have started a small apple orchard from scratch His road novels, BIRDMAN and FRENCH POND ROAD, trace the meanderings of one Billy Kagan, a footloose soul striving after sanity and love in the last years of the last century. Connect with Caplan on Facebook, Twitter and Google + and Goodreads.

Interview:

TM: What sparked the idea for Latitudes: A Story of Coming Home?

AC: I reached an age where I could forgive and understand my parents for some of the things I remembered from my childhood, so I wanted to write about that moment when a child realizes he doesn’t have to feel sorry for himself, that he’s holding onto feelings that are only holding him back.

TM: What drew you to the young adult genre?

AC: Telling this story. I didn’t set out purposely to appeal to young adults. I believe this is a good story for adults also, especially if you’re an adult who still remembers those childhood feelings of helplessness and victimization. And of course young adults have an easier time remembering those feelings because they’re closer to them. For some young adults, this story also is a reminder that it can take many years to get over those feelings.

TM: Are there any similarities between your childhood and Will’s?

AC: Yes, a lot of the events and relationships in the story are based on my childhood, with a good dose of dramatization and stretching of the truth, whatever that is.

TM:Your books are set in various exotic locations.  What is your favorite place to live and what is your favorite place to visit?

AC: My favorite place to live is where I live now, in central New Hampshire. I am very proud of our country and wouldn’t live anywhere else, but as far as romantic locations, I lived in the west of Ireland for four years, down a little boreen, or cow path, with no electricity or running water. That was fun, but I wouldn’t want to live there now.

TM: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

AC: Keep writing, keep reading, and support independent authors. That’s where exciting things are happening.

I received a copy of this book for the purpose of the review.  Regardless, all opinions are mine.

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