Wednesday, April 06, 2016


We Are Pirates, Daniel Handler, Bloomsbury, 2015, 269 pp
Summary from Goodreads: A boat has gone missing. Goods have been stolen. There is blood in the water. It is the twenty-first century and a crew of pirates is terrorizing the San Francisco Bay. Phil is a husband, a father, a struggling radio producer, and the owner of a large condo with a view of the water. But he’d like to be a rebel and a fortune hunter. Gwen is his daughter. She’s fourteen. She’s a student, a swimmer, and a best friend. But she’d like to be an adventurer and an outlaw.

Phil teams up with his young, attractive assistant. They head for the open road, attending a conference to seal a deal. Gwen teams up with a new, fierce friend and some restless souls. They head for the open sea, stealing a boat to hunt for treasure.

We Are Pirates is a novel about our desperate searches for happiness and freedom, about our wild journeys beyond the boundaries of our ordinary lives. Also, it’s about a teenage girl who pulls together a ragtag crew to commit mayhem in the San Francisco Bay, while her hapless father tries to get her home.
My Review: 
Ten years ago I read the first book in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, because two of the girls I was tutoring at the time were reading the series. Lemony Snicket became a huge success but he wasn't real. He was a pen name.
I never continued reading the series though I fell in love with Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny. They are the kind of kids I've loved in fiction ever since I read The Secret Garden and Pippi Longstocking. The real writer behind the pen name is Daniel Handler. He has written six adult books but I had never read any of them.
I belong to one subscription book club: The Nervous Breakdown Book Club. For $9.99 a month I get a book in the mail, sometimes paperback, often hardcover. These are books of all types: under-the-radar books from new young authors, indie press releases, and occasionally hot new literary novels like Alexander Chee's The Queen of the Night. That is how I happened to have We Are Pirates on my shelf and on a whim, grabbed it to read.
I am so glad I did! Even though the book is for adults and has an absurd title, the heroine Gwen is the 14-year-old daughter of a struggling radio producer in San Francisco. In a moment of teen rebellion, fueled by unhappiness at home, she goes nuts shoplifting and gets caught.
Through her own series of unfortunate events, Gwen runs away with her soul-mate/bestie, a senile old man, and the little brother of the guy she has a crush on. They have decided to become pirates.

Don't ask. If life has become too serious, if the election news is getting to you, if you are depressed about climate change, just read this incredibly improbable book.

Did you ever read High Wind in Jamaica? Or Bloody Jack by L A Meyer? Two of the best books ever with female kid pirates. Gwen reminded me of them.

(We Are Pirates is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. Sounds like crazy fun! When I was a child, I wanted to navigate a nearby river (a non-navigable one by the way) in a raft, accompanied by my best friend, a-la Tom Sawyer. :-)

    1. I was! As well as being a great father/daughter story. Did you ever build your raft and try it?

    2. No, but it was fun to dream of it. ;-)

  2. Sounds like a wonderful "caper" novel. Those can certainly be good for what ails you when the world gets to be too much.

    1. Yes, and Lord knows we need books like that.

  3. The election news is getting to me ... I need some fun like this. SF Bay full of pirates, hell yeah.

  4. Replies
    1. This is a book that might be a little different for you but I think you would like it. Even though it is quite American and not at all Swiss!