book cover of The Family Ship
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The Family Ship

A novel by

From the Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestselling author of True Places comes a disarming and emotional novel about a family in distress and a daughter’s mission to keep it from going under.

Chesapeake Bay, 1980. Eighteen-year-old Verity Vergennes is the captain of the USS Nepenthe, and her seven younger siblings are her crew. The ship—an oyster boat transformed into a make-believe destroyer—is the heart of the Vergennes family, a place both to play and to learn responsibility. But Verity’s had it with being tied to the ship and secretly applies to a distant college. If only her parents could bear to let her go.

Maeve and Arthur Vergennes already suffered one loss when, five years earlier, their eldest son, Jude, stormed out and never returned. Now Maeve is pregnant again and something’s amiss. Verity yearns to follow her dreams, but how can she jump ship now? The problem, and perhaps the answer, lies with Jude.

When disaster strikes and the family unravels, Verity must rally her sibling crew to keep the Nepenthe and all it symbolizes afloat. Sailing away from home, she discovers, is never easy—not if you ever hope to find your way back.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"With both wit and wonder, Sonja Yoerg navigates The Family Ship through choppy waters. This novel is completely immersive and highlights the enduring power of story in both our lives and our families. Yoerg’s prose and imagination are the strong currents that bring this fabulous tale to life." - Patti Callahan

"Sonja Yoerg’s The Family Ship is a fearless, timeless story of a family in crisis. Join the Vergennes family on the shores of the Chesapeake and you’ll be rewarded with an emotionally charged page-turner of a story, but also with a cast of beautifully rendered characters who each will find a different way into your heart. Rising tides of grief, hope, and loyalty will sweep you away!" - Kelly Harms

"Building on the metaphor of a landlocked ship on which the children of a large and close-knit family have long engaged in a complex game of make-believe, The Family Ship explores the dynamics of love and betrayal, tragedy and healing. Yoerg has crafted a refreshingly unusual and beautifully written story about the ways grief can both break us apart and bring us together." - Kerry Anne King

"Families, like ships at sea, sometimes founder on hidden rocks and begin to break apart. Which is exactly what happens to the Vergennes family in Sonja Yoerg’s luminous The Family Ship. Only a heart of stone would be immune to the charm of the Vergennes children, all nine of them. Yoerg offers this large, disparate crew to the reader with the wisdom and compassion of a consummate storyteller. And she tops off the tale with one of the most exciting finales I’ve read in years. I recommend this book with my whole heart." - William Kent Krueger

"In The Family Ship, Sonja Yoerg has lovingly rendered an imaginative family saga of strength, tragedy, and triumph. The Vergennes family of nine children and their parents is deftly woven and expertly crafted to explore an array of palpable emotions and realistic personalities for a sweeping cast of characters—a credit to Yoerg’s remarkable skill and talent as a writer. Like all good family stories, The Family Ship begins and ends with love." - Amy Sue Nathan

"Like an anchor tied to your ankle, Sonja Yoerg’s The Family Ship will tug you down into the turbulent waters of the Vergennes family, where you’ll come to care desperately for these wonderfully human characters. As I tore through the mesmerizing finale, a ripe and satisfying grin rose on my face and in my heart. What a superb accomplishment—a tightening noose of a story with delightful characters and vivid imagery. No doubt Yoerg is at the top of her game, and she’ll make you feel young again with this one." - Boo Walker

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