"Float Plan" by the late Rob Hiaasen is a love letter to the city of Annapolis.

(Join the Great DMV Bookclub each month as we read a book that is set in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia! We’ll reveal the book on the first Tuesday of the month on OCN and then review the book on the last Tuesday of the month. Join the discussion in the comments! It’s online, it’s free, and it’s fun!)

November's Book: Float Plan by Rob Hiaasen

If you read along with us this month, you may have had the same reaction to Float Plan as I did – it’s one wild ride. That’s not to say it’s bad -- there’s just a lot packed into a few short pages. As we learned, Hiaasen worked on this story for years, tweaking pieces that weren’t up to his standards, over and over again. He wanted the story to be a perfect love letter to the city and the people he loved.

The story is indeed a love letter to the city of Annapolis. I enjoyed this part most of all. I spend a great deal of time in downtown Annapolis, and while I’m usually terrible with any sense of direction, I know exactly where many of the places he mentions in the book are located. I could even guess a few times where the main character Will Larkin was wandering or driving, based on Hiaasen’s well-worded and detailed descriptions. These are places that are near and dear to my heart. Using landmarks such as Storm Brothers Ice Cream at the Docks (or the locals’ term Ego Alley to describe the small section of waterway inundated with very large boats most of the time) really connected me to the story. It’s almost as if I was sharing a little wink with the author – “You know that place, too? I love that place!”

And while these little details made me love the main characters in the story, it made it difficult to get through some of the other parts of the book. Weirdly, I went from hating to loving Float Plan and back again, at the close of each chapter. I’d go a few pages, and he’d describe Will and Parker’s love affair beautifully, and I’d fall for them. But then, Will would lapse into crude humor with his friends, and I’d decide it wasn’t my cup of tea.

In the end, I decided I actually did enjoy the story; I just didn’t love the entire book. Will and Parker are fantastic characters, and if I could pull them out of the book and drop them into another storyline entirely (though still set in Annapolis!), I’d be much happier. However, I applaud the author and his family for working so tirelessly on Float Plan and its publication, as well as donating much of its proceeds to such a worthy cause. After reading Hiaasen’s words, I can only imagine what he could have done in future books. While it’s heartbreaking he isn’t here to see others celebrate his work, thankfully his words live on in an odd little story with a big heart and some Annapolis charm.

Food for Thought


1. A float plan is a record of where sailors are headed, their length of trip, and other details that would help them be located in the event of an emergency on the water. Will and Parker both create “float plans” for their lives in the book that include what they want to do with the rest of their lives. What’s in your “float plan?”

I spend much of my life dreaming about what I want to do when I “grow up.” For some, it’s decided early on in life. In my case, I still haven’t really discovered me yet, so it’s hard to decide. However, on my float plan is most definitely getting married to a lovely man, settling down, and raising a family. Also, traveling to places I’ve always wanted to visit, and eating a whole lot of delicious food along the way. Somewhere on that list, theatre and books must also reside.

2. Rob spends a great deal of time sprinkling in his favorite parts of the city from the docks down to some of the best restaurants in town. If you’ve been to Annapolis, what would you include in your tour of the city? And if you haven’t, what would you choose to include about your hometown?

Unlike Will, my favorite ice cream in Annapolis is the Chocolate Oreo at Annapolis Ice Cream Company, so that would most definitely be included in my tour. The theatre scene is fabulous in the city so I’d include Colonial Players and the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre in the mix. Just because everyone in Annapolis knows that while the sailboat and motor boat shows are big moneymakers, they are also a huge pain in the neck when you just want to sit and watch the boats go by, I feel as though they need a mention. And on the subject of events, my favorites are the First Sunday Arts Festival and Midnight Madness at Christmas time, which both deserve a shout-out.

3. During the reading of the book, Maria Hiaasen mentioned that her favorite chapter is Chapter 14, while mine is decidedly Chapter 12. What’s your favorite and why? And is choosing a favorite chapter something you do often when reading?

I don’t often have a favorite chapter of books that I’ve been reading, but since I ran warm and cool with this story, I gravitated to Chapter 12 above the others. The first few pages of Chapter 12 talk about Will’s trip to a homeless shelter in Annapolis and getting to know the residents there. It’s sweet, and it shows Will and the author’s heart. It’s a beautiful example of what writing can do; that even in the midst of a fairly comical story, there’s compassion and connection.

So what are your thoughts? Did you love Will and Parker’s quirky affair? Is Annapolis on your summer destination list now? Sound off in the comments below!

Did you read October’s selection? Check out our review of Campaign Widows here!