Girl Sailing Aboard the Western Star by RA Anderson is a memoir of the time she spent in relative isolation on a sailing ship. If ever there was a time to read a book about isolation, this is the time. While we are experiencing stay-at-home orders and finding ourselves physically and socially apart from others, we can read about a young girl as she lives aboard a 53-foot sailboat with only her parents, her older brother, a captain and a tutor.
The year was 1979, and the reason behind the isolated travel was not a pandemic but rather the author’s parents’ decision to uproot their family from Califormia and set sail for the Caribbean for the next year. “In August, we are all moving onto this fifty-three foot sailboat and sailing to the Caribbean.” Those were the words delivered from the author’s father to Annie and her brother, DJ.
So much like the immediate shut down of our schools, social life, and just about every routine we all knew as normal, Annie has to say a quick goodbye to her home, her pets, her friends, her school not knowing when she would see any of them again.
Girl Sailing Aboard the Western Star by RA Anderson chronicles Annie’s time on the sailboat with just her family, a captain, and a tutor. It is based on Annie’s journal that she kept during this time. At age 12, Annie was devastated by this change in her life. Over the course of several months, we follow her actions and feelings of living on board a sailboat, sharing a tiny room with her 16-year old brother, and navigating her world turned upside down.
This book is written like a journal with day and time entries, as it was transcribed from her actual journal entries written at the time. A good thing, too, that Annie kept a journal because it captures the time in her life, and in particular it captures 1979 and 1980 like a time capsule. Her brother listens to AC/DC on his new “Sony Walkman.” She says, “Dag” and references The Love Boat.
Kudos to Ms. Anderson for keeping such a record, not just for her own self, but for others to read, reminisce and recapture their own pasts. My hope is that many people have kept journals these last few months to record their own thoughts, feelings, and new experiences during our current time of isolation. Who knows? Fifty years from now, maybe someone will write their own memoir similar to Ms. Anderson’s. Girl Quarantined at Home in Middle America?