A story of love, hatred, selfishness, faith and most importantly, the dualities bound up in being human, Lynn Sloan’s captivating first novel Principles of Navigation is a psychologically tormenting exploration of the human condition. Alice Becotte wants a child more than, and at the cost of, anything else in her life or anyone else’s. Her husband, Rolly, an artist and university professor at a local Indiana college, is much more concerned with creating art and living by the ways of passion than he is with having children or settling into a traditional idea of family life.
At first, the novel focuses primarily on the struggles of Alice and Rolly’s marriage as well as the difficulties bound up in their seemingly incompatible relationship and tumultuous love for one another. However, as it progresses, Sloan veers readers off their perceived course toward plot bumps of infidelity, loss and more internal struggles.
At fundamental odds with one another, Alice and Rolly vacillate between affection, annoyance, and adoration for one another – as will you, the reader. Throughout the book, you will both love and hate each character a hundred times over and more. Sloan threatens to break readers to pity, to disdain and to compassion as each character showcases the spectrum of his or her duality. Nobody is a reliable narrator, and (or perhaps because) nobody is a static character. This is what makes Sloan’s novel so fascinating and gripping. Just as in life, no one person is the protagonist or antagonist – each character becomes another’s antagonist, or their own, as they navigate the waters of life’s imperfections and unfairness, as well as the consequences of their own actions.
There is nothing about Principles of Navigation that segregates it to one particular genre, nor does it target one group of readers. The book raises questions that are essential to every reader’s life: questions of humanity, love and growing older. Questions that will propel you from page one to the end of the novel without a backward glance as you are ripped through the pages of Alice and Rolly’s tumultuous lives.
Sloan, already a success in the field of short story writing and photography has broken into the novel industry with a strength and vivacity that will be sure to propel her into the ranks of great American novelists. Published by Fomite Press, Principles of Navigation is scheduled to be released February 15, 2015.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book for a fair and honest review of the text.