“The Rebellious Tide” by Eddy Boudel Tan— Searching for his Father

Tan, Eddy Boudel, “The Rebellious Tide”, Dundurn, 2021.

Searching for his Father

Amos Lassen

As Sebastien searches for his father he is led to a ship with a dangerous secret.Sebastien Goh has heard only stories about his father, Kostas,  a mysterious sailor who abandoned his pregnant mother thirty years ago. When his mother dies after a lifetime of struggle, he becomes obsessed with finding out why his father left. — perhaps even revenge. 
Kostas is the commanding officer of a luxury liner sailing the Mediterranean. Sebastien poses as a member of the ship’s crew and stalks his g father in for answers as to why he disappeared so many years ago. When a public assault engenders outrage among the ship’s crew, Sebastien finds himself part of a revolt against the oppressive ruling class of officers. As the clash gains strength between the powerful and the powerless, Sebastien uncovers something his father has hidden deep within the belly of the ship  and this secret forces him to confront everything he’s always wondered and feared about his own identity.

Themes of suppression, dominating (white) men, homophobia and being good or bad, black or white and all the grey in between are everywhere in “The Rebellious Tale”.

Eddy Boudel Tan writes wonderful descriptions and creates unforgettable vibrant characters.For the first half of the book we’re involved in Sebastien’s life and his friends on the ship, his understanding of the different classes on the Glacier and injustice done to others. The second half of the book brings the darker secrets to the fore.

When Sebastien is on the ship trying to get to know his father, we meet other characters who fled their homes because of mistreatment or homophobia, hoping to find refuge on the Glacier. It turned out otherwise though, life on the ship being is ugly and mean. Sebastian is half Singaporean half Greek, queer and is determined to discover his heritage. His journey towards the truth will unveil more than he thinks.Sebastien’s is filled with sharp passion and dynamism with a level of darkness and fury, an irreplaceable complexity and a keen sense of humanity. As the book develops, we learn more and more about him.  

There is a very real sense of mystery, suspense, and danger. He and the other characters are permanently faced with difficult decisions and sacrifices; they must decide how much to sacrifice to find out the truth and whether or not to ignore the ugliness they find and face the truth of themselves. 

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