a YA novel by G. Neri
from Penguin / G.P.Putnam's Sons
Hardcover • Novel/Fiction Ages 14 and up • Grades 9 and up
TWO CALIFORNIA SURFERS FIND THEMSELVES EMBROILED IN A WORLD OF DISORGANIZED CRIME.
When Logan Tom goes searching for the Perfect Monster Wave, he doesn’t expect his former best friend, Fin Hamilton, to be killed by it. With everything else going wrong in his life—including a deadbeat dad who bankrupted his family, a mom on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and the possibility of college going down the drain—Logan is suddenly in a tailspin. So when small-time drug dealer Broza offers Logan and his dropout pal, Z-boy, a summer job that could make them rich, it seems like all his problems are solved. But between Z-boy’s constant screw-ups, a band of Nazi surfers out for blood, and a mysterious stranger on their tail,
"Like a monster wave, Neri's story rockets you through the pipeline of teenage angst, delivering a rousing and unforgettable ride." - Paul Volponi, author of Hurricane Song and Black & White.
"Neri's novel catches readers' interest on the very first page and propels them to the end in this intense, funny, and exciting read. Reluctant readers will be hooked on this fast-paced, interesting adventure... it is a definite buy." -School Library Journal
"Harrowing... Neri delivers a powerful story that doesn't flinch... Sometimes brutal, but always realistic, this will find an audience among teens looking for gritty contemporary fiction." - Booklist
"The tortured but loving friendship between Logan and Z-boy proves poignant and heartbreaking. Logan's agonized wrestling with morally ambiguous choices and his flawed yet appealing family and friends should find a wide audience." - Publisher's Weekly
"Neri sandwiches his story between a crackling opening and a whipsaw climactic scene... older boys who say they’ve never read anything will be attracted to the novel’s... [view of a] friendship on the brink of disaster." - Kirkus Review
"Fraught with danger... many will be caught up in the page-turning action of the story. Neri does a great job of creating sympathy for the two hapless surfers." - VOYA
"With a splash of surfer vernacular and a flood of genuine emotional struggle, Neri's book reflects the complexity of young adult life while offering options and hope."
- The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literature
"I loved it-- I was totally hooked... a gripping and meaningful tale with some beautifully literary moments." -Literacy for Teens
"There’s a new YA novelist in town by the name of G. Neri... His first YA novel Surf Mules is sure to be a hit." - ALAN News of Note
"All you have to do is read the opening chapter and you will be hooked on reading this fast-paced, interesting tale. Intense, funny and exciting. This is a must read." - Winters' Wonderland
St. Petersberg Times review
How the story came about:
The story was inspired by an accidental encounter I had one morning in
But when I got up close, I saw it was some kind of ceremony. A young surfer in his teens had died a few days earlier in a surfing accident. I looked around and saw surfers from age 7 to 70 and many others from the community. They were spreading his ashes out to sea, and I thought, who was this kid to inspire such a turnout?
When I got home, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I started writing a scene, which eventually became chapter 4. I was just trying to capture the moment and what these people were feeling about this young surfer. It was just supposed to be a short story, but my writing group liked it a lot and wanted more. How did this kid die? What was his story up till that moment? I wrote more. And the more I wrote, the more they wanted.
I never thought I could write a novel, but they tricked me. Before long, it became too lengthy to be a short story, or even a novella. I was in too deep and couldn’t turn back. Luckily, I had seen folks in my group write their novels. They were just like me and watching their stories evolve week by week made me think that maybe I could do it too.
Eventually, I remembered a script I had written with a friend of mine, back in my filmmaking days. It was a comedy about drug smugglers who were surfers and somehow, that idea entered into this world I was creating. It happened organically and by accident, but soon, the two threads were off and running. The second half of the novel sailed quickly by and suddenly, 310 pages in, I realized I no longer needed what I thought was the third act. This is where the story ended. I had somehow written my first novel!
Some will ask, is this story autobiographical in any way? Only in a sense of capturing the southern California surf scene of my teen years. All the smuggling elements came from research on the film project and from hearing the crazy true-life stories these surf mules had. But no, I am not Logan, I had great parents, and I went away to college. My best friend was not Z-boy and I didn't have a friend die in a surfing accident. It's called fiction.
But I hope you get something real out of Logan's fictional journey from adolesence to adulthood. The choices we make in that transition are choices that can sometimes effect the rest of our lives. Those decisions are very real. The key is to learn from them and to keep moving forward.