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Caught Inside: A Surfing Passage
by Lauren Benton Angulo
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Reviewed by: Gordon Osmond

From the highly successful 1966 film, Endless Summer, to the more recent spate of Maverick media works, ocean surfing has provided a fertile launch pad for reflections on the nature of Man's relationship with the sea. Lauren Benton Angulo's lovely and lyrical account of a young and older man of the sea is a worthy addition to this canon.

Caught Inside is about saving things--from human lives and spirits to canine ones. It's also about love even though no man/woman romance is anywhere about.

The present day plot is simple enough. A senior surfer rescues a teenager after a wipeout and later pays therapeutic bedside visits to the victim at the hospital. These visits stimulate recollections and reevaluations of past experiences by both savior and saved which, though different in many particulars, are oddly consonant in two critical areas: a love of the sea and a love of dogs. Anyone who fails to respond to the emotional punch of these relationships should consult a cardiologist.

The tale is told in chapters that alternate between first person/present tense accounts of each surfer. Confusion is avoided by stating the name of the narrator at the start of each chapter and by using contrasting fonts for each. This means of clarifying is by no means excessive for here we have Kekoa rescuing Kaimana Keller and attending to him with the conspiratorial assistance of Nurse Kalli, and all, if you don't mind, on the island of Kauai. What is it with these "K"s? The letter doesn't even exist is some languages.

The story's two protagonists are nicely etched although one might hope for more differentiation in their respective voices, considering that one is more than twice the age of the other. The younger does come up with a juvenile "WTF" at one point, but for the most part his recollections are expressed with a degree of sophistication that is remarkably similar to that of his older caregiver.

For this reviewer, young Kai was especially endearing when he made this assessment of the art of poetry.

"Even a poetry book would do though poetry is just annoying because I struggle to understand what the author is trying to say. It seems contrived when words rhyme, but I also get really irritated when they don't."

The following passage is a proofreader's nightmare which, though perhaps attempting a compromise with respect to an ancient vocabularic dispute, would benefit from a firm choice between alternatives:

"I keep one eye on the red-jersey kid who is paddling out further than anyone has since the first horn at 7:30 a.m. It is now almost 5:00 p.m. and everyone is exhausted, except the adrenalin-pumped kids in the lineup. The other boys in the heat notice the red jersey paddling farther out . . . "

These quibbles aside, if you want to experience the thrall of the sea without getting wet or killed, you could do a lot worse than savoring the salt, and the sweet, of Caught Inside.

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