When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek

Photo: Jesus Ayala/Studio D

14 of 17
When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
320 pages; Riverhead
In Nick Dybek's When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man (Riverhead), 14-year-old Cal faces a moral dilemma after making a disturbing discovery: There's someone chained up in the basement of his home. And not just anyone, but the very unpopular Richard Gaunt, the son of Cal's father's late boss. Richard, now the heir to the village's only fishery, is threatening to sell the business; worried that they'd soon be out of work, Cal's father and his coworkers have taken Richard prisoner and let the townspeople think he's drowned. Enter Cal, who starts off appropriately hostile but finds himself warming to Richard over shared cigarettes and card games. Suddenly, once clear choices are muddied. We all make mistakes, Cal learns, "but that isn't the tragedy. The tragedy is that, except in the rarest cases, we do things—good things, bad things—without ever really knowing why."
— Michele Filgate