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Lynch, Jim. The highest tide.

LYNCH, Jim. The highest tide. Read by Fisher Stevens. 6 cds. 7 hrs. BBC Audiobooks America. 2005. 0-7927-3753-9. $64.95. Vinyl; plot, author, reader notes. SA

Miles O'Malley is an "increasingly horny, speed-reading, thirteen-year-old insomniac" who becomes a local celebrity when he discovers a 37-foot-long giant squid while kayaking early one morning. Soon TV crews are hounding him, as well as a New Age cult convinced of his divinity. Several worries keep him from getting a swelled head. First is Angie Stegner, a judge's daughter who was his babysitter. He adores Angie, who is now an 18-year-old drug-abusing grunge band bass player who already has a boyfriend. Then there are his warring parents, who discuss divorce. His friend Phelps is a sex-obsessed teenage air-guitar player whose favorite word is a sexual obscenity. Finally there is Florence, an old lady who fancies herself a psychic and who predicts great things for Miles. Her advancing Parkinson's disease is a worry for Miles, who often finds her bloodied and bruised from falling in the tiny house she inhabits alone. Miles loves the tidal flats of Puget Sound and can quote Rachel Carson from memory. He gets the scientific community, the New Agers, and the media interested in the rich life in the primordial ooze that the retreating tides reveal.

Narrator Stevens is familiar from TV, movies and the stage. His reading is by turns professorial as Miles lectures anyone who will listen about crabs and starfish, and passionate as Miles agonizes over his parents, Angie, and Florence's approaching death. The best part of this coming-of-age story is the rich life of the tidal flats. Lynch lives in Olympia, Washington. He has an observant eye and uses his familiarity with Puget Sound to effect. In fact, the Sound is as much a character in the novel as any of the humans. Janet Julian, English Teacher (retired), Grafton, MA

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

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Author:Julian, Janet
Article Type:Audiobook review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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