On the Waterfront by Mike McCoy
What’s it About?
A coming of age tale of two boys struggling for acceptance and friendship at an Oregon summer scout camp.
Publish Date: 10/29/2022
Author: Mike McCoy
Page Count: 196 pages
Publisher: Blaster Tech
“The struggles in our life are what define us. Adversity molds us. A life of meaning comes from a life of suffering.”
Not that Danny Novak had suffering in mind when he is hired to spend the summer working at an Oregon scouts camp in Mike McCoy’s touching tale, On the Waterfront (Blaster Tech). In fact, Danny sees it as an opportunity to escape from his broken home and have some fun.
The Struggles of Boyhood
Trouble is, as the camp’s youngest staff member at age 13, he doesn’t anticipate the verbal abuse and ridicule from many of the more senior staff boys, whether in the cabin, detail in the camp kitchen, or immersed in the various pranks and activities typically associated with youth summer getaways. It makes Danny feel uncomfortable, weak, fearful and out of place – despite his intense obsession to belong.
And then, in his efforts to secure a prestigious and popular position along the waterfront, he becomes the focus of the well-seasoned Mark, the camp tough guy with a checkered past and possible criminal record. Mark, as a punishment for his camp misbehavior, is charged with having Danny shadow him as he teaches the young boy to swim and excel at waterfront activities – a chore not greeted by him with joy or enthusiasm.
While the quote about life struggles would appear to come from Danny, the words actually come from Mark, a misunderstood soul seemingly guilty in life until proven innocent. While he is feared for many good reasons, Danny will only be intimidated so far, and the two develop an unpredictable relationship.
In fact, it reminds me of something I said decades ago when I spent summers at a sleepaway camp in Gloucester, MA. Asked to speak for “the good and welfare” of our cabin on the final night, I observed that even though there are people you tend to steer clear of or even ignore for most of the summer, that when you give people a chance, you find there is good in everybody. Such is the case with Danny and Mark.
Heartwarming Tale of Friendship
Besides plenty of coming-of-age messages, McCoy captures the essence of the camp experience and the beauty of the surroundings that anyone who has ever attended overnight camp will appreciate.
The author writes from the deeply personal experience as a camper when he was only 12 years old. He regrets the delay but basks in the joy of finally getting his thoughts out in the writing of this book decades later. While readers suspect his life mimicks the character of Danny rather than that of Mark, he would tell you “I was some of each.”
In On the Waterfront, Mike McCoy has given us a flavorful and alternatingly heartwarming and gut-wrenching slice of adolescence and its many foibles. He is a fluid storyteller, with plenty of colorful anecdotes and poignant messages to keep readers satisfied.
Without giving anything away, it is touching to watch the growth and development of Danny:
“With great effort, I inched forward through the black void, cataloguing my faults, accepting my fears, until I pushed through the walls of terror, leaving fear in the forest like a snake sheds dry skin.”
“Sometimes it takes a walk through the darkness to see yourself in the light. A solitary moment of peace and the strength to accept yourself — not allowing the crap that happens in your life define who you are.”
About Mike McCoy:
Mike McCoy’s debut novel ASTEROIDS–Bridge to Nowhere received high praise from critics and was selected as a semifinalist for the 2020 Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize with a rating of 9.5 out of 10. Because of the research Mike conducted for the novel, he has been a frequent guest on talk radio shows, including Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, discussing asteroids and their risk to Earth.
Mike was an international businessman and an entrepreneur working in the consumer electronics industry for 30 years. The company he founded, ADS Technologies, developed a variety of innovative products which were sold in retail stores in over 40 countries. Mike is an occasional athlete known for long-distance events. He completed a full Ironman Triathlon in 2006. For his 50th birthday, he ran a double Marathon (52.4 miles). In 2018, Mike celebrated his 60th birthday with a 600-mile bike ride.