The Highest Tide – Jim Lynch

It’s books like this one that remind me why I love reading so much. Books, that from page one, open a door and welcome you into their world, with details so rich and vivid you can not only see it and hear it, but you can smell it too. Books that introduce you to wonderful new places, and let you see things you might never have seen or even heard of before. I love books like this because when your done you actually feel like you’ve changed a little.

The Highest Tide, is about Miles O’Malley, a thirteen year old boy who lives on the tidal flats of the Puget Sound, his obsession for marine biology, and his coming of age. Right from the start we can tell Miles is not your ordinary thirteen year old boy, instead of text messaging and playing video games he is out on his kayak looking for clams to sell to local restaurants or collecting other interesting sea life for his aquarium, all the while pondering the meaning of our place along with nature in this world, “…the water was so clear I could see coon-stripe shrimp … and the bottomless bed of white clam shells … Those shells, as unique and timeless as bones, helped me realize that we all die young, that in the life of the earth, we are houseflies, here for one flash of light.” One night out exploring he finds a rare deep sea creature that does not belong in or anywhere near the shallow flats of the Puget Sound. This discovery puts the spotlight on Miles and his amazing talents and the events of his remarkable summer begin to slide into motion.

One of the special things about The Highest Tide are the vivid details in which you are able to explore the world of marine biology, for example when Miles happens upon a beautiful sea creature called a nudibranch, he reflects “In all my time on the flats I’d never seen one before. I’d read about them, sure. I’d handled them at aquariums but never in the wild, and I’d never even seen a photo of one this stunning. Nudibranches are often called the butterflies of the sea, but even that understates their dazzle. Almost everything else in the Northern-Pacific is dressed to blend with pale surroundings. Nudibrances don’t bother, in part because they taste so lousy they don’t need camouflage to survive. But also, I decided right then, because their beauty is so startling it earns them a free pass, the same way everyday life brakes for peacocks, parade floats, and supermodels.”

While Miles’s marine life discoveries are fascinating stuff, his personal life is equally as rich and interesting. He’s in love with his eighteen year old rocker/bi-poler babysitter, he has a clam digging pal named Phelps who is sex obsessed, and his best friend is an elderly woman named Florence with Parkinson’s disease. To top it all off, his parents are getting divorced and he can’t seem to grow any taller than 4’8. Toss in an earthquake, a cult, a few near death experiences and top it off with making out with a chocolate Labrador retriever and you’ll begin to see why Mile’s life is just as crazy and fascinating as the sea creatures he collects.

While the plot delivers, the heart of the book was the beauty of the ocean and the Puget Sound. At one point in the story Miles quotes his favorite marine biologist Rachel Carson and her words with regards to writing about sea life, ‘if there is poetry in my book about the sea it is not because I deliberately put it there but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out poetry.'” This veneration for the beauty of sea life makes this book not only a good solid read but a lovely hybrid of science textbook meets poetry and prose. Within it is also the lovely message that there is amazing beauty everywhere for us to see, but in order to see it you have to be willing to open your eyes and look.

I highly recommend this, and I think it would make an amazing beach read. In fact my only regret when reading this was that I hadn’t waited a week or so to read this while I will be at the beach in Coastal South Carolina.


More Stuff about The Highest Tide.

Jim Lynch has a super cool website about The Highest Tide, check it out after you read the book.

Bookslut has a very good review of The Highest Tide by Colleen Mondor who actually lives in the Pacific Northwest herself.

Click here to read the first chapter of The Highest Tide.

Rachel Carson, Miles’s hero in the novel was a real person and a “genius” in the world of Marine Biology. Go here to learn more about her.

A Nudibranch

A Giant Squid

The Puget Sound, Washington State


9 Responses to “The Highest Tide – Jim Lynch”

  1. I read this one, too and thought it was excellent. It probably wouldn’t have been a book I normally would pick up, but I won it in a drawing and was so glad I did. Thanks for sharing photos!

  2. Sure! Thanks for the comment, I let this one sit on my bookshelf for almost a year until I finally picked it up. HA! What a jewel.

  3. I will have to keep my eyes open for this book. I have never heard of it before and I likely wouldn’t have picked it up if I hdn’t seen reviews of it.

  4. bibliobook Says:

    You sold me on this one, it has been added to my wishlist!

  5. Thanks for dropping by guys, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

  6. Oooh, I saw this at the library the other day and added it to my ‘Beach Books’ booklist bookmark I did up, thinking it fit the bill. Glad to hear it it so good – looks like I will have to read it for myself now!

  7. […] so rich and vivid you can not only see it and hear it, but you can smell it too. Books that int “free gay porn videos free” at General Forum…button ring pictures lost yaoi pussy licking sex […]

  8. I snagged a copy of this last summer (in the Portland airport) when we were vacationing in the Pacific Northwest (San Juan Islands). I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet. I must read all those books I bought last summer and this one is moving to the top of the stack. I’ll read your review more carefully once I’ve finished the book.

  9. It’s going to be end of mine day, but before finish I am reading this enormous piece of writing to improve my know-how.

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