The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch

I enjoyed The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch, even though it’s a change from the type of books I’ve been reading recently. It’s the story of a young teenage boy, Miles O’Malley who is thirteen. He finds a giant squid dying on the mudflats at Skookumchuck Bay, at the southern end of Puget Sound, near his house. Such a rare creature causes intense interest and Miles is the focus of attention as he is pursued by TV crews wanting to interview him. The question is why has the squid been beached on the shore? What is happening out at sea?

It’s an easy book to read, even though packed with information about marine life, the ocean and tides, which Miles is passionate about. It’s narrated by an adult Miles, looking back at that summer he found the giant squid, when he had a crush on Angie, his ex-babysitter and his best friend, old Florence was getting sicker each week.

I’d visited Florence a least weekly for the past three years, in part because she increasingly seemed like the person most like me. She was almost as short and skinny but with huge bottom-fish eyes, as if she was designed to read in the dark, which suited her seeing how her gloomy home overflowed with books to the point stacks had to be moved to offer seats to more than one visitor. The clutter also added to the assumption that she was nuts. Most people didn’t know what else to call someone who called herself a psychic. My mother did. She called Florence a crazy witch. (page 47)

Florence, who is suffering from a variation of Parkinson’s disease, lives in a small steel-roofed summer cabin standing on stilts, washed underneath by the high tides. She predicts a superhigh tide in September. Miles is sceptical because September was known for mild tides. But Florence tells him:

‘Even science goes haywire sometimes, Miles.’ (page 50)

I was moved by Miles’s compassion for Florence, an old lady at the end of her life and his passion for the sea, whilst worrying about his parents’ divorce and his own troubles. It’s a beautifully written book about life, growing up, relationships and love. I was just sorry that this book had sat unread on my bookshelves for the last few years, but glad I did eventually get round to reading it.

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (1 May 2006)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0747587620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747579380
  • Source: I bought it
  • My Rating 4/5

3 thoughts on “The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch

  1. I’ve heard this on the radio at some stage – an Afternoon Play I think, quite mesmerising in places, lovely use of words and emotions, with incredible descriptions of the sea and beach, especially at night.


  2. Margaret – This really does sound interesting! Not the sort of thing I would usually look for first either, but it sounds very worth a read.


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