Edge of Nowhere is set in Prince William Sound, which is located in southern Alaska. The people of Prince William Sound speak an endangered native Alaskan language called Alutiq. It is neat just to be exposed to a new language. Each of the eighteen chapters in this book are prefaced with the Alutiiq number and the corresponding English number. I learned the Alutiiq word for salmon is Igalluk.
People earn a living on Prince William Sound by salmon fishing. I like to go to salmon fishing, but I can't imagine doing for a living. John Smelcer establishes that salmon fishing is how people who live on Prince William Sound survive. It pays for the mortgage and the food. It also pays for the crew who work on the boat. I can visualize all the animals that he describes in this book. They are deer, sea otters, black bears and salmon of course.
The plot centers around a teenage boy named Seth. He gets hit by a wave, and he goes overboard while on his family fishing boat. He lands on one of the islands in Prince William Sound. I love the way he learns how to survive for months on his own. He crafts a spear with a tree branch . to catch salmon. He also survives by eating mussels and dandelions. He uses the tide currents to literally swim in the direction of his home. It is not often that I admire the traits of a fictional character, but I do admire Seth's courage and survival instincts.
The other character is Jack. He is Seth's father. He is determined to do anything to find his son. Edge of Nowhere is very much a coming of age novel. The character of Seth starts the novel as a boy, but he becomes a self reliant young man because of his experience.
The theme of a death of a family member is explored in this book. I don't want to give the plot away. I will say that Seth learns to accept that death is an natural part of life. Seth learns that sometimes that no one can be blamed for the sudden passing of the loved one. I like everything about the book Edge of Nowhere.