Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch

So many of my friends raved about this book (thank you, Hannah!), and I am so glad I picked it up now. It truly swept me away into its world, and I didn’t want to let go at the end. Miles O’Malley lives in Olympia, Washington and is an avid beachcomber—he spends hours, day and night, exploring the tide pools and sands near his home. But this summer turns out to be life-changing for the shrimpy (his height is a constant refrain) 13-year-old in a number of ways. For one, he discovers a giant squid with eyes as big as hubcaps one night when he should have been sleeping. This discovery, and others, makes him a local celebrity and he soon has newscasters and even a local cult trying to track him down. But what I love about Miles are the subtleties in his character, the details that make him real—he’s in love with the older, bipolar, punked-out girl next door, his best friend is an ailing senior with Parkinson’s who used to be a psychic, and he spends his time digging for clams on the beach with a classmate obsessed with sex and air guitar. He’s a Rachel Carson enthusiast and can quote her at will (and boy, do I need to read some Carson sometime soon!). I have a soft spot for coming-of-age novels, and this one swam right past my defenses.

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