Jaime Enrique Gutierrez Perez’s Journey of Sea, Heart, and Land is a voluminous novel about a young man who loves the ocean. An opportunity to work aboard a ship and travel the world provides him not only an educational experience but also personal growth and discovery regarding love, family, friendships, intimate relationships and long-held secrets.
Elias Gomez lost his parents as a youngster and was raised by a guardian in San Andres, Columbia. Following his love for the seas, Elias, now 18, joins the crew of a merchant ship, El Valhalla, in 1996 as cabin boy. With the friendship of the vessel’s captain and the enticement of the captain’s teenage niece, Helena, who also travels onboard, Elias sets sail. Travels between South America, Europe and beyond showcase Elias tested on stormy seas, young women triggering his youthful libido and, ultimately, Elias pondering his future beyond El Valhalla.
Elias, the narrator, intermittently addresses readers directly, drawing them into the story, sharing his emotions and in one instance saying he’s sorry to “bore” readers but wants to capture a “rich feeling.”
Unfortunately, the volume needs major proofreading. Perez is a native of Columbia, so the fault might lie in language issues. Words are misspelled or missing and phrases such as “Thanks, man” don’t fit the characters. A central problem is the misuse of male and female pronouns, causing confusion about who is speaking.
Some characters speak untranslated in their native languages, leaving most readers in the dark. English dialogue sometimes seems out of place and senseless. In a discussion of Helena’s friend Leena’s beauty, Elias blushes and the conversation concludes in confusion: “Your face says it all. Paljon kiitoksia, Elias!”
Audiences who enjoy novels focusing on characters’ relationships within various settings should find merit in this work. Despite the translation inconsistencies, whether the action takes place at sea or on land, it is clearly a journey focused on emotions of the heart.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.