By Dan Berne
Forest Avenue Press, $18.00, 298 pages
Ray Bancroft supports himself and his granddaughter Sitka on Yatki Island, Alaska by commercial crabbing and occasional charter fishing. While there can be bonanza catches, between boat repairs, bad weather and just cussed luck, Ray and Sitka have achieved only a laborious equilibrium between success and failure. Added to this is the challenge of raising an eleven-year-old girl as a single parent, but Ray gets the help he needs from his first mate, Felix. The arrangement is unconventional, but it works for their small family until the return of Ray’s daughter Jenny, who has been jailed or in rehab for several years because of her methamphetamine addiction. Jenny has been born again, and is determined to reconnect with Sitka, even if that means taking her away from her life with her grandfather. Ray and Felix appeal to an assembly of Tlingit traditions and various spiritual guides for another shot at coping with the chaos of their lives. The Gods of Second Chances is a poignant and sad first novel, and we can look forward to more from the compelling Dan Berne.
Reviewed by Norman West