Monday, January 13, 2014

ARC Review: The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue

The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman, January 14, 2014. 176 pages. Published by Henry Holt. Source: Publisher.
On the night of February 18, 1952, during one of the worst winter storms that New England has ever seen, two oil tankers just off the shore of Cape Cod were torn in half by the force of the storm. This middle-grade adaptation of an adult nonfiction book tells the story of a harrowing Coast Guard rescue when four men in a tiny lifeboat overcame insurmountable odds and saved more than 30 stranded sailors. This is a fast-paced, uplifting story that puts young readers in the middle of the action. It’s a gripping story of heroism and survival with the same intensity as the bestselling book and movie The Perfect Storm. 
First Sentence:
Boatswain's mate first class Bernie Webber held a hot mug of coffee in his large hands as he stared out the foggy window of the mess hall.  
I tell you this straight, The first couple of chapters were rough because it seemed like the had overly toned down the book for younger readers. Example, there were a couple of things that were overly explained in the first few chapters, but as the story picked up the heroism of the Coast Guardsmen won out and pulled me in.

Even though my Dad retired from the Coast Guard a little over a year ago, I still consider myself a Coast Guard brat and probably always will. So, you can imagine my excitement over the opportunity to read a book about Coast Guardsmen based on a true story. It was over the top.
   All in all, this book was pretty intense as you watched these young men make the decision to continue on with their job even when the odds of success were pretty slim. It is pretty amazing to when you think of the danger that they, then and now, put themselves in to rescue those at sea and all the things they now do. As things looked there grimmest, I was at times holding my breath as the small wooden lifeboat crested each wave, and as each of the men made up their mind to see things through till the end. Talk about heart-wrenching as hey struggled with the facts that they may never make it back to their loved one; also, seeing the impact left on each of them from what happened that night is something I won't be forgetting any time soon.

There is no way to define what makes this such an incredible read. All I can say is that their story will get under your skin and say with you. If I hadn't had to leave right after reading The Finest Hours, I would have written my thoughts up the moment I finished it because it left that big of an impression on me.

While The Finest Hours is one incredible read, the beginning was almost enough to drive me away. I briefly mentioned above why I almost walked away after four chapters-they overly explained simple points. But what really almost ruined it for was that those first four chapters made it feel that they had dumbed it down thinking younger readers would not be able to understand. Which, had it continued on that way would have made this book a fail, but luckily as the book delved further into the daring rescue it lost that feel.
  So, if you can make it past the first four chapters you'll be in for one roller-coaster of a ride as you watch these young men brave uncertain conditions to carry out their job and rescue those stranded on the wrecked tankers.

Final Verdict: As the book trucked along, there were literally scenes that stole my breath away as the crews struggled against the violent weather to perform their duty. Truly a great story of bravery in the face of danger.

The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue earns 4 out of 5 pineapples.

This book was received for an honest review.


  1. I think I need to check this one out. I wonder if 8-12 year olds (I assume that's the recommended age level) will agree with you about the first 4 chapters or if they won't notice the oversimplification. Hmmmm... Thanks for the review!

    1. Who knows...maybe they will see it differently then I did. Thanks for stopping by.


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