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Rock the Boat
Cover of Rock the Boat
Rock the Boat
A Novel
“[A] witty, heartfelt debut novel about a belated coming-of-age.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

Old friends discover how much has changed (and how much has stayed the same) when they reunite in their seaside hometown for one unforgettable summer—from the New York Times bestselling author of From the Corner of the Oval

When Kate Campbell’s life in Manhattan suddenly implodes, she is forced to return to Sea Point, the small town full of quirky locals, quaint bungalows, and beautiful beaches where she grew up. She knows she won’t be home for long; she’s got every intention (and a three-point plan) to win back everything she thinks she’s lost. 

Meanwhile, Miles Hoffman—aka “The Prince of Sea Point”—has also returned home to prove to his mother that he’s capable of taking over the family business, and he’s promised to help his childhood best friend, Ziggy Miller, with his own financial struggles at the same time. Kate, Miles, and Ziggy converge in Sea Point as the town faces an identity crisis when a local developer tries to cash in on its potential. The summer swells, and white lies and long-buried secrets prove as corrosive as the salt air, threatening to forever erode not only the bonds between the three friends but also the landscape of the beachside community they call home.

Full of heart and humor—and laced with biting wit—Rock the Boat proves that even when you know all the back roads, there aren’t any shortcuts to growing up.
“[A] witty, heartfelt debut novel about a belated coming-of-age.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

Old friends discover how much has changed (and how much has stayed the same) when they reunite in their seaside hometown for one unforgettable summer—from the New York Times bestselling author of From the Corner of the Oval

When Kate Campbell’s life in Manhattan suddenly implodes, she is forced to return to Sea Point, the small town full of quirky locals, quaint bungalows, and beautiful beaches where she grew up. She knows she won’t be home for long; she’s got every intention (and a three-point plan) to win back everything she thinks she’s lost. 

Meanwhile, Miles Hoffman—aka “The Prince of Sea Point”—has also returned home to prove to his mother that he’s capable of taking over the family business, and he’s promised to help his childhood best friend, Ziggy Miller, with his own financial struggles at the same time. Kate, Miles, and Ziggy converge in Sea Point as the town faces an identity crisis when a local developer tries to cash in on its potential. The summer swells, and white lies and long-buried secrets prove as corrosive as the salt air, threatening to forever erode not only the bonds between the three friends but also the landscape of the beachside community they call home.

Full of heart and humor—and laced with biting wit—Rock the Boat proves that even when you know all the back roads, there aren’t any shortcuts to growing up.
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  • From the cover Part I

    Road to Nowhere

    Kate Campbell opened her eyes but couldn’t see a thing. It was the middle of the night and, like a young Miss Clavel only less French and more ginger, she knew something was not right. Recalling the details of the previous evening, however, she realized it was just the opposite—­nothing was wrong, and everything was finally about to be extremely right.

    Kate smiled in the dark as all the evidence accumulated to form an arrow pointing at a singular fact: Thomas would propose to her in the morning. Wriggling back under the covers, Kate grinned as she imagined what everyone would think besides It’s about time. Of course it was about time; it had been twelve years.

    Despite—­or maybe because of—­the countless, candid conversations they’d had about how and when to get engaged, Kate was shocked that Thomas would spring this on her. It was impressive, really, to still surprise someone after more than a decade of dating (never mind those two rocky breaks when he was stressed in med school, or those six months his first year of surgical residency, or this second fellowship). They’d agreed forever ago that the only real incentive to marry would be if they wanted to start a family, and they hadn’t even discussed children in the last six months because Thomas’s fellowship was basically Kill Bill only in long, white coats and with far more blood.

    But the end of the fellowship was finally in sight with an offer at the same hospital, and their conversation the night before was undeniable evidence of an imminent proposal. They’d been in a cab crossing back over the Brooklyn Bridge, Kate watching the fare tick up and up, when Thomas had asked if she’d like to go to brunch at Norman’s in the morning.

    “Before New Hampshire?”

    “Mm-­hmm,” Thomas said, looking at his phone.

    “With Aggie and Marta?” Thomas’s sister and sister-­in-­law lived above them in the building Thomas’s grandparents owned. They would carpool to New Hampshire together for Easter Sunday, just as they’d done every Easter since they were twenty-­two.

    “Just us,” Thomas had said, as he continued to stare down at his phone. This calculated attempt to plan a casual brunch without Aggie and Marta seemed odd to Kate, like inserting a key only to find the door already unlocked. It momentarily jostled her out of her midnight stupor, but she had been too tired to explore what Thomas’s suggestion might mean—­until now, hours before dawn, when his odd behavior had, poof, turned into proof.

    But proposing in April? Kate wrinkled her nose. April in New York was horrific—­an open sewage drain of a month with damp clothes and nagging colds, everyone trudging through the office as bedraggled and psychotic as the Times Square pigeons. Kate had assumed that if this was going to be the year, Thomas would have waited for May, and asked while they were on vacation with his friends.

    As the sun rose, however, Kate warmed to Thomas’s strategy: He would pop the question now so they could then drive up to New Hampshire to celebrate with the Mosby clan over Easter. She hoped but doubted that Thomas had thought to include her family in some way, which was not his strong suit, only because his family was big and fun and . . . a lot. All three generations and extended branches of Mosbys lived here in the city, mostly on the Upper East Side but everyone in Manhattan, or what Thomas jokingly referred to as “the only island that...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 12, 2021
    In this charming if predictable debut novel (after the memoir From the Corner of the Oval), three 30-somethings try to get their lives on track. Kate Campbell has “given all of her twenties” to her boyfriend in New York City. Then he leaves her, which also spells the end of her job at his family’s public relations agency. Kate returns home to Sea Point, N.J., and her old bartending job at a thriving hotel owned by Jo Hoffman. Miles, Jo’s son, who’s been floundering in San Francisco with an unused business degree, soon returns in order to prove to his mom he can take over the family business, and to help out his friend Ziggy Miller. Ziggy’s stayed in Jersey all along, working with his contractor dad, Zeke. But when Zeke dies of a heart attack while fulfilling a client’s request for “the world’s most savage man cave,” he leaves the books a mess and Ziggy unmoored. That is, until Ziggy catches up with Kate. While it’s no surprise that things turn out just fine for Kate, Miles—who develops an interest in cooking—and Ziggy, Dorey-Stein captures a strong sense of their feeling stymied now that their glory days have passed them by. It’s a modest story, but it delivers on its promise. Agent: Becky Sweren, Aevitas Creative Management.

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Rock the Boat
Rock the Boat
A Novel
Beck Dorey-Stein
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