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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch

The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch. New York: Bloomsbury, 2005. ISBN: 978-1-58234-605-2

Wow! What a book! I suppose one COULD characterize it as young adult fiction, but I think that would be too restrictive an assessment. I honestly believe anyone who picks this book up, and starts to read it, will be almost instantly hooked. The main character, thirteen-year-old Miles O'Malley, is irresistible.

The book is set right here in Olympia, Washington, where I live, and where the author lives as well. And the book has won several awards. None of which explains why you should read it. Miles is your typical geeky, uncool (to his peers) teenager. Like me at that age, he hasn't yet experienced his growth spurt, and is small for his age.

But he has a magical way with the tidelands, beaches, and waterways where he lives. He is an intimate of tide pools, mudflats, and everything to do with the Puget Sound. Not to mention a big fan of Rachel Carson, whose writings he can quote from memory verbatim.

Miles begins discovering truly improbably things, a giant squid heaved up on the beach, where it has no place, no right to be, as it is normally a denizen of the deep deep ocean, rarely seen, and never somewhere like this. And that's just the first of his amazing discoveries.

In the meantime, as he explains in the very first pages, although he still looks like a 9 or 10-year-old, he's really thirteen, horny, and lusting after the gorgeous 18-year old daughter of his near neighbor, the judge. Lots of typical adolescent hormones at work, too. Eventually Miles becomes something of a local celebrity, spouting environmental messages to the world.

A truly wonderful book, easy to read, with a great message, and truly charismatic characters and storyline. Highly recommended for all readers, and even more especially for teens. Don't miss this one. You'll be sorry if you do.

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