I first heard about this book, Love with a Chance of Drowning, from the author’s blog, The Fearful Adventurer. I followed writer Torre DeRoche’s story from her trip to the writing of the book to self-publication to the eventual representation by Hyperion, Penguin Australia and Summerdale in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. It took her over eight years to complete the book and it truly is a labor of love, with Torre’s same sense of self-depricating humor you’ll read on her blog.
It all started for 24 year old Australian Torre when she decided to spend a year working in San Francisco as a graphic designer. The last words her father told her before leaving was, “Don’t fall in love with an American.” After a night out with friends, she wakes up to a handsome stranger, an Argentinian named Ivan. Over the next few months their relationship deepens and then he drops the news: he’s going to sail the world and he wants her to go with him.
Unfortunately for Torre, she is deathly afraid of water after a childhood of watching Jaws with her horror movie scriptwriter father. Ultimately she follows her dreamer from Los Angeles first down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on his ship Amazing Grace, but she has not lost her fearfulness. In one of my favorite passages of the book, Torre questions Ivan about what happens if something goes wrong.
No, what if something happens and we…die?
He looks directly at me and, without pause, he says, ‘Some people die of old age without ever having lived their dreams. Some people die without ever having loved. That’s tragic. We’ll both die someday, that’s a guarantee. If something happens on the ocean, we’ll die as two people in love who are living a remarkable adventure. That’s a good way to die.’
With that, I nod, fall quiet, and surrender.
After many scary days at sea with Torre becoming seasick and Ivan sailing for days on end, they cross the massive Pacific Ocean and reach the islands of Marquesas, Cook and Society islands. It’s here that Torre falls in love with her surroundings, the lazy days spent reading on the boat and cooking a big dinner with new sailing friends. She grows to become an “old salt,” a sailor with the knowledge to save the day when Ivan is too stubborn to think clearly, but some things don’t change. She still gets seasick and still wants a life on land. Ivan could happily spend the rest of his days on the sea.
I related to Torre in many ways, mostly when all she wanted to do was throw a fit. I too have fallen for someone from another country and fought about where we would end up. My story didn’t end the same way as Torre’s, but it made for a more compelling read since I had similar experiences.
What I took away from the book is that you’ll never know how something will turn out until you try and that it’s okay to be scared. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. And if you wait until the right time, or the “safe time,” you’ll never go.
I read Love with a Chance of Drowning in a matter of two days. It’s far more than your simple love story, as it’s not all “I love yous” and grand gestures, but a tale from a real living, breathing relationship. You also won’t get bogged down with all the sailing jargon because Torre herself was a beginner. I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but if you’re wondering if this book is for you, follow Torre’s advice at the opening of the book: “dedicated to those who dare dream, and those who dare fall for dreamers.”
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