The story follows a young boy named Nailer. Nailer works with a crew of "ship breakers." Basically, everyone ran out of oil, the city of New Orleans was flooded time and time again, hurricanes come all the time now (the poles have melted), and all the boats and tankers of the previous age are laid to waste along the gulf shore. Nailer's and other crews break the old oil ships down for their parts. It's a rough life. There's not much to eat and Nailer is beginning to worry about what he'll do once he becomes to big to be on "light" crew. On top of all this, his father is a druggie and drunk who abuses Nailer and causes problems all the time. It's business as usual until after a storm (a city killer) Nailer and his friend and coworker Pima discover a majestic clipper ship washed up on their shore. Nailer's seen the beautiful, sleek ships in magazines and from a distance...he's dreamt about what life must be like for the rich people on those boats. As he and Pima check out the damage they discover one survivor, a girl. They have to decide between helping this girl or just stripping the ship of everything - including her life. They could be rich...they could have a better life....but can they just leave her there?
The rest of the book follows their decisions and the consequence of those decisions. The book was fast paced and didn't drag at all. Once they discover the girl, it all races by. It also paints a picture of what our world might look like if we don't take care of it. As they travel inland at one point in the book to New Orleans and Orleans II, Nita asks about what happened. Nailer responds,
"Stupid," Nailer muttered..."They were damn stupid." Tool shrugged. "No one expected Category Six hurricanes. They didn't have city killers then. The climate changed. The weather shifted. They did not anticipate well."
Nailer wondered at that idea. That no one could have understood that they would be the target of monthly hurricanes pinballing up the Mississippi Alley, gunning for anything that didn't have sense to batten down, float, or go underground.It's a creepy view of the gulf in the future. In addition, though, this is a story about family and how you make it. Nailer's dad is a bad man, but that doesn't mean that Nailer will become that way or has to. Family and home are where you make them. Nailer learns a lot about this as he fights for a friend's life. A good read.