If you’ve finished our “GMA” Book Club pick this month and are craving something else to read, look no further than our new digital series, “GMA” Buzz Picks. Each week, we’ll feature a new book that we’re also reading this month to give our audience even more literary adventures. Get started with our latest pick below!
If you’re looking for your next summer read, check out “Rock the Boat” by Beck Dorey-Stein, this week’s “GMA” Buzz Pick.
Dorey-Stein’s latest novel is a coming-of-age story that centers around three friends in a seaside town over the course of one unforgettable summer.
We’re introduced to Kate Campbell, whose life is turned upside down when her life in Manhattan is derailed and she’s forced to return to Sea Point, her small hometown that’s full of quirky locals, quaint bungalows and beautiful beaches.
While Kate’s back in Sea Point, she’s also reunited with Miles Hoffman, an old friend who has also returned home to prove to his mother that he’s capable of taking over the family business. Then there’s Ziggy Miller, Kate’s other childhood best friend, who’s also facing his own financial struggles, while also dealing with the loss of his dad.
Over the course of the summer, all three friends, who are in their 30s, come to terms with where they are in their lives. While they aren’t all where they would like to be, they recognize the challenges they’ve faced and learn that they don’t need to have it all figured out yet.
“This novel is inspired by the time a few years ago when a plumber broke into my parents’ house while they were out of town to take a bath. And while the tub trespasser inspired the book, it’s a story about three 30-somethings returning home to their beach town and realizing that while life doesn’t always go according to plan, sometimes, that’s just what you need,” Dorey-Stein told “Good Morning America.” “I hope you love it.”
“Rock the Boat” is available now. Get started with an excerpt below and get a copy here.
After so many years away, she’d forgotten what it was like to be the Jetty bartender, the high priestess of the sacred buzz. Kate poured absolution into rocks glasses and served forgiveness with a salt rim. The martinis were dirty but the clients were genuine, and as she racked up miles in the fifteen-foot galley, Kate considered how it wasn’t about the alcohol for most of the people here. It was about congregating for a holy communion. It was about being seen, remembered, welcomed.
There was a stool for everyone at the Jetty Bar except Pretense, because he and his buddy Pride had a reserved corner table in the four-Michelin- star formal dining room. Halfway through her shift, Kate carded a couple visiting from New York and realized that if the Wharf had been in the city, she and Thomas would have been dining room regulars, gushing to out- of-town friends that the service was impeccable and menu brilliant in its simple sophistication. But in New Jersey, Kate knew better: A customer sitting at the Jetty Bar could order anything from the dining room menu if they’d been around long enough to ask. And as an employee, Kate didn’t hate it when a customer sent back the scallops for being too browned for their liking because the only thing more delicious than scallops from the Wharf were free scallops from the Wharf.
By her third night, Kate was in cahoots with the servers, food runners, and kitchen staff. As they waited for Kate to make their cocktails, servers would wipe down the small beverage trays and gossip about their tables.
There were the day-trippers who tended to walk out once they learned popcorn shrimp wasn’t on the menu. The condescending first-timers who found the cheap pitchers of beer offensive until their teenage children brought up all the celebrities who loved the Wharf—and then the pitch- ers were kitschy. It didn’t matter that Jo Hoffman had promised her father in 1983 that she’d serve cheap pitchers at her fancy resort, and that was how she still lured him to town for two weeks every summer. What mattered to the “just visiting” crowd was that if the rich and famous were okay with pitchers—Tina Fey, Will Smith, and even Oprah Winfrey—then it must be part of the Jetty Bar experience, like New Orleanian beignets and lobsters in Maine.
But Kate’s favorite customers weren’t the celebrities in their baseball caps and protective entourages. The people Kate shimmied for as they mounted their barstools were the Nightwalkers.
Nightwalkers were fellow restaurant folk on their night off who appre- ciated the artistry of Kate’s cocktails and the multiple free rounds she sent their way because that’s just what you did for your barkeeping kin. After all, the inside bartering among waitstaff was half the beauty of working in the industry, and so the Nightwalkers would pay their small tab and leave a fat stack of cash for Kate along with an understood invitation to their restaurant on her next night off.
Within the small world of Sea Point existed a smaller world of local hustlers who got by on curried favors and rumpled wads of green bills, always slightly damp from spilled drinks and sweat. The Nightwalkers took care of each other because everyone was busting their butts and no one was paying for health insurance. Even after a slow morning, week, month, fellow servers always left an extra $20 on the table. It wasn’t code so much as a straight-up declaration that they had each other’s backs. The cash was to compensate for the couple extending their passive-aggressive tactics to the service, and to cover for the patrons who left a $3 tip on a $47 bill so that it showed up on their credit card as an even $50.
“Why do they care?” Kate asked the first time she experienced the egregious round-up method.
Denise had cursed at the receipt and muttered, “Because dinner is cheaper than therapy.”
Behind this bar, she wasn’t a Campbell or an almost-Mosby. She was just Kate the bartender, smiling to the honeymooners, sunburned fishermen, consulting bros down from the city and exhausted dishwashers finally done for the day, and the Nightwalkers. Kate caught her reflection in the circle window of the swinging kitchen door and decided she was indeed a treasure in her own town. Because regardless of any fact about her former life, Kate knew with unequivocal certainty who she was when she tied on her black apron and put her hair into a high messy bun: a friendly face who could make a damn fine cocktail.
There was only one person in the world who would understand the euphoric frenzy of returning to the Jetty Bar, who’d stood beside her in this galley and wiped sweat with one hand and poured shots with the other. There was only one person who understood the highs and lows of gambling with large-party automatic gratuity, and Kate was desperate to talk to her. But she and Georgina had stopped speaking ten years ago.