Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Anchor Clankers is a young adult coming of age novel written by Renee Garrison. Sanford, Florida didn’t look at all what Suzette had imagined when she thought about Florida as the national collegiate playground for spring break. The humidity and heat were awful, and the dense undergrowth surrounding Lake Monroe looked like the jungle from a Tarzan movie. The fourteen-year-old couldn’t believe they had actually left the Northeast behind in favor of this bug-ridden and sweaty place. Her older sister was lucky; she was in college and didn’t have to move with them. They would be living in the Sanford Naval Academy, where her father would be the new Commandant, and Suzette would be the only girl there. It felt strange and surreal. She’d be commuting to a Catholic high school in Orlando, so her life would be even more fragmented. Soon, however, Sierra began to make friends with some of the midshipmen at the academy, and her mom would invite them to dinner and make them feel at home in the little apartment area that Suzette and her parents now considered their home. Gradually, Suzette began to feel as though her family had actually expanded; that she had brothers, and it was a nice feeling having them around.
Renee Garrison’s young adult coming of age novel is a heart-warming and sometimes hilarious biographical novel based on the author’s real-life experiences as the daughter of the Commandant at Sanford Naval Academy. Getting to know Suzette and seeing the midshipmen she becomes friends with is great fun. I had to remind myself at times that the story takes place in the latter half of the twentieth century, which the author clues us to with references to the opening of Disney World and songs, as the attitudes towards sexuality and teen pregnancy are dated and unfairly target young women while giving passes to their male partners. Garrison’s characters are finely drawn and authentic, and her plot kept me engaged and entertained throughout. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Garrison’s debut novel, The Anchor Clankers, has suspense, life, hard choices and sunny Florida beaches to dazzle and entertain the reader, and it’s most highly recommended.