Nostalgia is an entertaining source of literary inspiration – even when it’s getting nostalgic about the debauchery of your early adult years. This rings true in Jolly Walker Bittick’s novel, Cape Henry House. Based on a true story, this is a coming-of-age tale told by former Petty Officer Third Class Bosner. When his friends move into the titular house off-base, they originally see it as a place where they could relax and drink their livers to oblivion. Little do they know that the house will later become a focal point for the friend group as they navigate the real world.
While it is true that one could consider Cape Henry House a coming-of-age story, you should have flexible expectations coming in. Because this novel is coming-of-age the same way the American Pie film series is. That is not a knock on either Cape Henry House or American Pie (I’m a huge fan of both) – all I’m saying is, do not expect to see quirky teenagers stick their heads out of the sunroof and talk about how they’re infinite (whatever that means). Instead, you will get to read about house parties, keggers, “pass-out rooms,” greasy hangover cures, and all the other rough trimmings of youth.
Throughout this engaging novel, Bittick takes his time to paint the scene. Every character is described in vivid details, making each one stand out. The narration is told through Bosner, making the reading experience feel like you are kicking back with an old friend. Just like making new friends in real life, it is a bit difficult to get familiar with all the names being introduced as you flip through the pages. But once you get to a certain point, seeing characters make an appearance almost feels like going through an old photo album.
Cape Henry House is an entertaining bro novel. There is fighting, there is copious amounts of drinking, and women are often described by their numeric levels of hotness. “I hope she’s a five…” or “She’s somewhere between a five and a seven.” This novel is overtly masculine in a way that reminds me of Ernest Hemingway. If you can handle Bosner’s vulgarity, then Cape Henry House is a book that will be entertaining. Do not hesitate to pick up this lively book: the doors of Cape Henry House are wide open.
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