Scuba diving certification. Father and daughter. The Caribbean. In a recent presentation about adventure writing, Peter Lourie emphasized that appeal of his career lies in the information he learns, the people he meet, and the places he visits. The same holds true for me in my reading of his personal nonfiction text, First Dive to Shark Dive.
Before Suzanna could dive with sharks, she first needed to receive her Professional Association of Diving Instructors certification. Being certified would require Suzanna to become familiar with diving gear by practicing in a swimming pool, read and understand a three-hundred-page diving manual, fill out medical history and liability forms, take a written test, and make four open-water dives with her instructor. Whew! I enjoyed reading about Suzanna’s experience. Photographs are shown of each piece of gear, sometimes modeled by Suzanna herself. Brief journal entries are included from Suzanna’s various dives. One of the most interesting facts that I learned about scuba diving is the most important rule is to keep breathing smoothly and steadily. Lungs can be injured by even slight pressure changes if a diver holds her breath.
Suzanna is Peter Lourie’s twelve-year-old daughter. An appeal to me of First Dive to Shark Dive is that it’s about his trip with her to the Caribbean, where she not only learns to scuba dive but also to swim with sharks. The latter idea both excited and terrified Suzanna. While I would have liked to know why Suzanna had this wish, I found fascinating to read about all her adventures in the Caribbean. Each night, Suzanna and her dad would walk out on the dive dock to look for the mythical Chickcharmies. In addition, when they had time to explore the island itself, they visited old pirate caves. Suzanna also wanted to meet a woman who knew about bush medicine. And, of course, her journal entries about shark dives made me wish I were there.
The final topic I’ll cover in my write-up about First Dive to Shark Dive is the setting. Peter Lourie focuses on Andros Island, a diving paradise in the Caribbean. Andros Island is considered the largest, most unexplored island in the Bahamas, and a spectacular place to dive. They stayed at a modest lodge, which featured no pool, no phones, and no television. “Suzanna would be able to focus all her energy on getting certified as a diver.” One of the most interesting facts I learned about Andros is the geography is what makes its mysterious. The island is packed with sinkholes, which are connected to deep-ocean sinkholes miles offshore through a series of twisted caverns and tunnels deep under the sea, where sea devils and mermaids are said to live.
As with other Peter Lourie offerings, First Dive to Shark Dive is a highly visual and informative true adventure narrative. While it lacks the perks of back pages, I appreciated the personal nature of this text about a seven-day father-daughter vacation.
My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.
How would you rate this book?