A fascinating account of Melanie Neale’s childhood and adolesence growing up on the family boat Chez Nous with her parents and younger sister. In the winters they head off for the Bahamas and summers they return to the east coast of the United States. Melanie’s parents have always been unconventional and wish to broaden the horizons of their children. Melanie and her sister are home-schooled and as children get shunned by small-town America for their unconventional lifestyle. Learning the lore of boat-life, Melanie makes life-long ‘liveaboard’ friends. At the age of eleven, she goes diving with her father and other men and has adventures with reef sharks and other formidable creatures. We share her growing pains as she turns from a child into a teenager and has various pubescent relationships. We feel her pain and confusion as she comes up against her father’s attitude as she becomes sexually active. The hypocrisy and double-standards she has to endure as a girl, hit her hard. Meanwhile, she and her friend, Michelle, have a dream to buy a boat and go sailing together when they are old enough and they save up to make this dream a reality. By the age of eighteen, Melanie is doing a correspondence course in boat design. She also gets her captain’s license and now has options and money in the bank. She and Michelle have saved enough for a boat but Michelle drops a bombshell – she’s going to get a boat with her new boyfriend. Not one to be perturbed, Melanie goes to college to study International Business and decides to major in creative writing. At the age of twenty-two she buys herself a boat Short Story and survives extreme weather conditions and hurricanes. She’s ‘chosen to be that girl who’s a little tougher than most guys’ after all. Boats are so much more than fibreglass when you’ve lived and breathed them and cared for them as Melanie has – they are her skin. The vivid imagery of reefs and conches and the passion with which Melanie describes her life as a ‘liveaboard’ will stay with me for a long time.