The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
This is another of those debut novels that makes a relatively new author despair of ever making the grade. It is a coming-of-age novel, and a climate change novel.
Thirteen year old Miles O’Malley finds a giant squid along the shallows of the coast where he lives. No usual find for the boy because this is a rare deep water fish. The fact that the boy has found it in the shallows turn him into a local celebrity. All the consequences of a week’s fame would have been manageable for a shy child, however, what is not, is the media storm caused when the news reaches national level. Other discoveries are found and the news is out that these oddities are due to climate change and discussion and arguments rage for and against the fault of human intervention.
While this media frenzy is slowly gaining momentum, Miles is fretting about his lack of inches, his slow sexual awareness, slow that is in comparison with his best friend, and a secret attraction for a local girl. Left to his own devices all this growing would happen in good time, in the center of a media storm his life is laid bare for all to view. His transformations throughout the book are jumbled and jarred by the outside world and the new pressures. While he struggles with his feelings he flees to the sea for solitude and space. Hanging over all is the impending doom of his parents failing marriage.
His fame threatens all he loves on the sea margins, all that has made him who he is.
This story is set over one summer of a young boy’s life, a summer which culminates in the disasters of the highest tide in 50 years.
I found it a beautiful and slightly mesmerizing tale.I felt I understood the different characters very well by the end, it has been many decades since I was so young, but I guess nothing changes that much. The descriptions of the sea and it’s margins was not only detailed but almost lyrical. One cared desperately for this ecosystem, cared as much as Miles. I also cared that his problems and the unraveling of his life would be put right.
I shall be looking for more from this author.