The Line Tender

Kate Allen

The Line Tender
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The Line Tender

Kate Allen

Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart’s marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, collecting shark data when she died suddenly. Lucy was seven. Since then Lucy and her father have kept their heads above water–thanks in large part to a few close friends and neighbors.

But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a great white–and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was meaningful but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant.

To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother’s unfinished research on the Great White’s return to Cape Cod. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she’ll finally be able to look beyond what she’s lost and toward what’s left to be discovered.  

Review

Lucy and Fred are very best friends and collaborating on a summer project. Already a passionate biologist at 13, Fred asks Lucy (a talented artist in the throes of self-discovery) to illustrate a field guide of animals that live close to their seaside home. So, when a shark is snared in a fishing net, Fred’s excitement is palpable!

I was so immersed in their story I was shocked to my core when tragedy struck. But life goes on in this bittersweet yet life affirming story. This is a rich, nuanced tale of insightful observations, gentle humour and relatable personalities; even minor characters leave an indelible mark on the story.

In her grief, Lucy finds reassurance and support from her family and community. She also discovers the importance of connection and the wonderful interplay of art and science. Each chapter begins with her drawings of the captured shark and as the story unfolds Lucy’s illustrations reveal her inner struggle: her sketches at first seem flat and empty but come to life as the field guide becomes both an homage and lifeline to those she’s loved and lost.

Highly recommended for readers in upper primary and lower secondary school who enjoy a realistic and engaging story.


Athina Clarke is the children’s book buyer at Readings Malvern.

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