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The Family Ship

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

By Sonja Yoerg




Verity Vergennes, 18, is the captain of the USS Nepenthe, and her seven younger siblings are her crew. An old oyster boat has been transformed into a make-believe destroyer beached in the Vergennes’ backyard in a small Virginia town on the Chesapeake Bay. The family’s ship is a place for the kids in the crew, ages, 4, 6, 8, 8,11,13,14, to both play and learn responsibility.

Verity’s parents, Maeve and Arthur Vergennes are already struggling to keep up and now Maeve is pregnant again. They count on the kids to help take care of each other. But now Verity wants to abandon ship and has secretly applied and has been accepted to Halliwell College in Roanoke which is hours away from home. Because the Vergennes eldest son, Jude, left home five years ago under troubled circumstances and has never returned, Verity knows this decision will be a difficult one for her parents.

When disaster strikes and the family begins to unravels, Verity is forced to marshall her siblings to keep the Nepenthe and all that it symbolizes afloat.


The Family Ship is a poignant and skillful story by beloved author Sonja Yoerg. Her descriptions of the USS Nepenthe, and its crew and their responsibilities aboard the ship were vivid and enchanting. This intrepid old ship is a integral part of this delightful story that is full of drama, tragedy and hopefulness.

Yoerg keenly introduces us to the crew by alternating chapters from different family members points of view. She guides us through the treacherous seas of family relationships and her writing is full of emotion and tension. She demonstrates both the shocking depths people will go to, and the strength people can find when face with tragedy.

Yoerg can alway be counted on for in-depth exploration of family relationships in her books. Her books are perfect for bookclubs and she even includes discussion questions with her books. She has published six additional novels including Stories We Never Told (2020) and one of my all-time favorites True Places (2019). Thanks to Netgalley, Lake Union and Sonja Yoerg for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Lake Union

Published February 23, 2021

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