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Summer at Forsaken Lake

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Summer at Forsaken Lake

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With their father en route to Africa for Doctors Without Borders, city-kids Nicholas and younger twin sisters Haley and Hetty are off to spend the summer with their Great-Uncle Nick at his house on...
With their father en route to Africa for Doctors Without Borders, city-kids Nicholas and younger twin sisters Haley and Hetty are off to spend the summer with their Great-Uncle Nick at his house on...
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Description-
  • With their father en route to Africa for Doctors Without Borders, city-kids Nicholas and younger twin sisters Haley and Hetty are off to spend the summer with their Great-Uncle Nick at his house on Forsaken Lake. Despite some initial doubts, Nicholas is right at home in the country: he learns to sail, learns about his father as a boy, and makes fast friends with a local-girl, the tomboy Charlie.

    The summer takes a turn toward the mysterious, though, when Nicholas discovers an old movie that his father made as a boy: it tells the story of the local legend, The Seaweed Strangler, but was never finished. Before long Nicholas wants answers both about the legend, and about the movie. Together, he and Charlie work to uncover the truth and discover some long-buried family secrets along the way.

    In this lovely middle-grade novel, Michael D. Beil has invoked one of his own favorites, We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, as well as other great summer books of years-past.


    From the Hardcover edition.

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    chapter one

    Goblin tugged at her mooring, darting back and forth, her bow pitching high in the air and then dropping violently with every frothy, white-­tipped wave. Her rope halyards--­used to hoist the sails--­slapped against the varnished wooden mast, and a corner of sail that had worked loose flapped noisily in the steadily building breeze. The leaves of the sugar maple tree in the front yard, so brilliantly green a few minutes earlier, turned their dull undersides upward, a million mirrors reflecting the angry gray sky above. Farther out on the lake, the whitecaps were already beaten down by a curtain of rain being pulled across the lake and toward the house and porch where Nicholas Mettleson sat.

    His uncle--­great-­uncle, actually--­had promised to take him and his twin sisters sailing today, but now that would have to wait. The worst of the squall--­the heavy wind and the thunder and lightning--­would pass by quickly, but the forecast called for the rain to continue most of the day. Nicholas was only a little bit disappointed, though. After all, it was just the third day of summer vacation; there would be plenty of time to learn to sail in the next two and a half months.

    A few minutes later, Nicholas's great-­uncle Nick, a steaming mug of coffee in hand, came out onto the porch through the screen door, followed by his gray-­muzzled dog, Pistol. "Mind if we join you? Looks like a doozy. No better place for watching a good thunderstorm."

    Nicholas smiled at him and scooted to the end of the wooden porch swing, where he felt the mist on his face as the rain blew through the screening. "Do you think Goblin will be all right?" he asked. "It's really bouncing around out there."

    "Oh, don't worry about her. She'll be fine--­ridden out worse lots of times. Much worse." The chains supporting the swing squeaked as Nick and his young namesake settled in to watch the storm with Pistol curled up on the seat between them.

    "Did you really build it, er, her?" Nicholas asked. He had been sailing only once before--­in a much smaller boat at summer camp upstate two years earlier--­and was still getting used to the idea that the twenty-­eight-­foot Goblin was a she, not an it. He was also trying to figure out how Nick, who, as a young man, had lost most of his left arm in a farming accident, could possibly have hand-built a boat as beautiful as Goblin.

    "From keel to masthead," Nick said proudly. "I'll show you some pictures later if you like. Built her in the barn out back."

    Just then, a jagged blue flash of lightning lit up the darkened sky, and they both braced for the loud crack that followed.

    "That was close," Nicholas said, a touch of worry in his voice.

    "Mrs. Phillips's television antenna," said Nick. "Gets it most every time. Sticks up about a hundred and ten feet. All so she can watch those soap operas. Never had much use for television myself. There's a little one around here somewhere, if you kids get desperate. Course, reception isn't much out here. Last time I checked, I think I picked up two stations in Erie."

    "Aren't you afraid the lightning will hit Goblin?" Nicholas asked.

    "Oh, I'm sure it has--­more than once. No harm--­she's properly grounded. The current goes from the mast right down through the keel and out."

    "What if you were holding on to the mast when it hit?"

    "Can't say as I'd recommend that, Nicholas. You'd probably look a lot like one of those neon signs in Times Square."

    Nicholas laughed. Maybe this won't be such a boring summer after all. Before Nick picked them up at the train station in...

About the Author-
  • MICHAEL D. BEIL teaches English at a Catholic high school in New York City. He is the author of three installments of his Edgar Award-nominated Red Blazer Girls mysteries, with a fourth in the works.

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