Noah Braddock is reeling.
Forced to leave San Diego after his life is destroyed by tragedy, Noah is hiding and trying to heal on the Florida Panhandle. Paralyzed by fear and the pain of loss, he’s isolated himself and given up everything that meant anything to him. When a young boy comes to him on the beach, unable to find his mother, Noah is pulled into both of their troubled lives. As he reluctantly works to protect them from local thugs, he must confront the memories that continue to haunt him. Those memories come to life when shadowy figures from his past show up in Florida. While he grapples with this, a new threat emerges that will forever change the lives of the boy and his mother and compels Noah to make a choice – keep running or face the consequences of his shattered life.
Picking up where the critically acclaimed Liquid Smoke left off, Drift Away exposes a new Braddock – introspective, lost, confused…but not yet broken.
I was first introduced to Noah Braddock with book 3 (aka I still haven’t read books 1 & 2). For the record, book 3 is a total doozy of a book. A main character dies. There’s backstabbing, betrayal, murder, revenge, injustice, bloody justice, and surfing. Now, I want to make it clear that I REALLY liked this book BUT… it’s not a mystery. It’s an oddly poignant look at how one man deals with his crushing grief and guilt to find himself again after a terrible tragedy. He does it in his own distinct, sometimes brutal way, but he does it.
Jeff Shelby does an outstanding job of showing us how far Noah has sunk into depression. His monosyllabic answers, his crushing need to work his body to exhaustion so he doesn’t have to think, his awkwardness and suspicion when someone is nice to him, his refusal to surf when, before, he lived to surf. Noah’s pain was very real and alive. He blames himself for everything that happened and he’s punishing himself for it. As he gets drawn into Bella and Jackson’s problems, he slowly begins to unthaw. It’s slow, but his inability to walk away when someone needs him gives him a chance to come to terms with what happened in book 3.
Like I said, this isn’t a mystery. All the bad guys are laid out for us without any guessing or second guessing who’s who. The true mystery is whether Noah will be able to forgive himself and face the demons he left behind in San Diego. Even then… well, let’s just say that Noah plays true to character and even though he lost an integral part of his life, he still has people who care about hm and are willing to help and I can’t imagine that he’d abandon them when they need him.
There was truly only one thing that made me sad… we got to see so little of Noah’s crazy-ass friend Carter. The guy is a menace and he’s SO MUCH FUN to read about. Here’s to more Carter in book 5!