Beneath Breaking Waves

Set in 1956, Beneath Breaking Waves features a sixteen-year-old girl who isn’t afraid to brave an ocean to reclaim her family and find her place in the world.

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In 1956, “good girls” don’t surf. Annie, apparently, isn’t a good girl.

After the death of their parents, sixteen-year-old Annie finds herself thrust into the guardianship of her brother, Ted. He was her only ally during their unhappy childhood, and she followed him everywhere, including into the waves.

Now, however, Ted can’t forgive Annie for the role she played in their parents’ deaths. Annie finds herself in a boarding home in California while he goes off to surf in Hawaii. When Annie finally gets an invitation to visit Ted, she has only the span of Christmas break to convince him to let her stay—and surfing the big waves of the North Shore just might be the key to softening his heart.

But if Annie fails to win Ted over, she’ll be shipped back to California, losing the only family she has left.


“Ted, I didn’t mean for any of this—”

“Course you didn’t. These things just happen, don’t they?”

My own words, thrown back at me. These things just happen—I’d said them after he asked me what I’d been doing with Keith that night.

“Well,” Ted continued, “so long.”

I wanted to reach out and make him hug me. I wanted him to tell me it was going to be okay, to tell me none of this was my fault. Instead I hugged my arms closer so they pressed into the buttons on my plaid shirt. I pressed hard enough for the buttons to leave marks. Little round imprints.

I turned around and went inside, unable to watch him pull away from the curb in the old Chevy he’d borrowed from Fiver.

I thought about a lot of things after he said, “so long,” and drove away. I thought about how we used to sit on our boards, facing the line where sky met sea, waiting for waves and blinded by the sun sparking against the water.

I thought about how he’d protect me back then, telling the other guys to stop their teasing because he always knew when I’d had enough.

I thought about how it made sense he’d move to Hawaii, because every time we needed sanctuary, even before the surfing, we’d go to the ocean. I thought about how he’d left me on the front step of that quiet, decent house on that quiet, tree-lined street. No ocean in sight.