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Paperback: 9781736602195

Case Laminate: 9781736602188

Hard Cover: 9798987556405

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In On the Waterfront, Mike McCoy has given us a flavorful and alternatingly heartwarming and gut-wrenching slice of adolescence and its many foibles. He is a fluid storyteller, with plenty of colorful anecdotes and poignant messages to keep readers satisfied.
Without giving anything away, it is touching to watch the growth and development of Danny:
“With great effort, I inched forward through the black void, cataloguing my faults, accepting my fears, until I pushed through the walls of terror, leaving fear in the forest like a snake sheds dry skin.”
“Sometimes it takes a walk through the darkness to see yourself in the light. A solitary moment of peace and the strength to accept yourself — not allowing the crap that happens in your life define who you are.”

Book Trib.

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Early Praise

A surprising summer camp tale of unlikely friendships and young adulthood.

McCoy writes with passion, illuminating the angst of young males trying to find their footing, and his characters are as believable as they are entertaining.

The jolting conclusion invites picking back through the novel, reading again in a new light, but the book’s heart isn’t just in its surprise. McCoy evokes those muggy summer nights of cricket chirping and self-discovery that will resonate with readers of character-driven literary fiction. Publishers Weekly – Book Life Reviews

Clarion Reviews Rating: 4 out of 5

On the Waterfront is an earthy novel in which a boy’s life is changed by a swimming-centered relationship.

In this fictional coming-of-age tale, based on the author’s experiences, a young boy faces his fears in the Oregon outdoors. On the Waterfront is written in memoir style with a strong voice, lush description, and colorful details of life in rugged rural Oregon. This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy coming-of-age tales in a rich setting. Blue Ink Reviews

On The Waterfront stands out from the crowd. The characters and the setting are written exceptionally well. BooksGoSocial

On the Waterfront is a coming-of-age drama, drenched in nostalgia, sadness, and a sense of deep longing. Emotion permeates every part of this story. Entrada Publishing

A classic coming-of-age story. Danny is an endearing, often funny voice, and his struggles are evocatively drawn. This may be a story about the small moments that shape a life, but McCoy imbues his story with relatable emotion and pathos. Danny is a wholly captivating lead character, and readers will quickly embrace his story as he navigates the rites of passage that yield profound revelations about friendship, power, fear, and what it means to grow up. Self-Publishing Review

“On the Waterfront is a well written novel, with punchy dialogue that rings true, and the descriptive writing brings the scenes to life.” The Oxford Editors

On the Waterfront

At thirteen years old, Danny Novak faced challenges of self-acceptance, abuse, mortality, and death. It was the best summer of his life and the darkest days he ever lived.

When Danny arrives at Camp Baker in June 1978, he is happy to be away. Away from his mom, his bratty little brother, their crappy house, and his sad life. Danny is the youngest boy hired to work as camp staff, but he’s confident he’ll fit in. He quickly learns that he doesn’t.

Mark Colby, at sixteen, has a bad reputation that follows wherever he goes. He works on the waterfront and is the strongest, meanest boy on staff.

When Danny fails a swim test to work on the waterfront, a senior staff member forces Mark and Danny to spend every afternoon together. Mark wants nothing to do with the boy who has ruined his summer, but he must teach Danny to swim or get sent home. Home is the last place Mark wants to go.

The other boys on staff are afraid of Mark. Danny fears Mark too, but he’s determined to be on the waterfront crew. If Danny passes the test to work on the waterfront, will the boys accept him as one of them?

On the Waterfront is an engaging tale of two boys. Their struggles for acceptance, understanding, friendship, and learning that suffering can lead to a meaningful life. In the end, genuine friendship is honoring requests and promises kept.

Author Mike McCoy, age 15 at his Eagle Scout Reception

About On the Waterfront

I was twelve years old when this story came to me, the essence of the story, anyway. I was a scout at Camp Baker staying at the Tyee campsite. One morning, I was having some intestinal issues, so I sat in a wooden outhouse on the bluff overlooking Siltcoos lake with the door open, gazing at the water.

The idea was that two boys were swimming the mile swim. An accident occurred and one boy was gravely injured, but before he died, he promised his friend he would always watch over him whenever he swam.

That was it. The story idea rattled around in my mind for the next fifty plus years. Ever since that day I thought about becoming a writer and promised myself that one day I would write this story.

The story is fiction, but many of the episodes in the story are real. If you asked me if I am Danny or Mark, I would have to say some of each.

I was a member of staff at Camp Baker for two summers in 1973 and 1974. I worked in the kitchen and on the waterfront. Brian and Molly were real people, although I don’t remember their real names. I was happy to be away from home and my bratty little brother. There were some gross chores I had at home involving animals, and I worked hard to make and save money.

Working on the waterfront, I swam several mile swims. One day, a storm came up suddenly and a sailboat overturned. The speedboat that went to rescue the sailboat had engine trouble, so I rowed out and pulled both boats back to shore during a violent storm. Those and many other story elements really happened, so you can see I have drawn deeply from the experiences of my youth and the wonderful times I spent at Camp Baker.

The only real boy

The one real boy in the story is Jeff, the engineer. Jeff Adams did amazing things with sticks and twine. He made gates that would open fifty feet away with a pull on a pinecone. He made crossbows with arrows that flew across camp, and more. His ingenuity fascinated me.

One day, while riding in the back seat of a car with friends, an errant bullet fired by Charles Arthur Hein, a prison escapee being chased by the police, hit Jeff in the back of the head.

Jeffery Burton Adams died instantly at sixteen years old. His death was a significant loss for the world. Imagine what that boy would have created if he had lived.

I hope you enjoy reading On the Waterfront. It’s a deeply personal story for me, one that was difficult to get down on paper, but I am happy I finally have fulfilled that boyhood promise to myself.