Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Flush Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Teens fight polluting casino boat owner in fun mystery.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 56 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The environment is worth protecting and defending, even if you have to break the rules sometimes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The heroes, young and old, fight to stop a corrupt casino owner from dumping sewage in the waters of the Florida Keys. Noah and Abbey lie to their parents, sneak out at night, and take reckless risks. Their father is impulsive and reckless and has been in and out of jail. Their grandfather was involved with thieves and smugglers.


Noah is beaten by bullies, and threatened with a gun and chased by a hired goon. A character is thought to have been killed. Abbey bites people hard enough to draw blood.


Shelley admits to leading a drunk man on romantically to help the main characters with their plot to bring down a crooked casino boat owner. There's a discussion about a photograph of some lawmakers and exotic dancers being used for blackmail. 


Moderate swearing, plus a variety of euphemisms for sewage.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two teens drink and smoke a cigar. Patrons on a gambling boat, as well as other adult characters, drink to excess. A girl admits to giving alcohol to an already drunk man to help the main characters bring down a crooked casino boat owner. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flush is an environmental mystery by Carl Hiassen set in the Florida Keys. The ends seem to justify the means as the heroes/good guys, young and old, behave recklessly, often stupidly, and at times illegally -- all for a good cause: stopping a corrupt casino boat owner who's been dumping raw sewage into the waters near their home. There's moderate swearing and a fair amount of potty humor. A boy is beaten by bullies, threatened with a gun, and chased by a hired goon. A girl bites people hard enough to draw blood. Teens and adults drink; a teen smokes a cigar.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMissPiggy November 8, 2019

Funny and bittersweet.

Flush is a laugh-out-loud tale of kids fighting for what is right. It will almost certainly make kids want to stop water pollution. It involves some drinking an... Continue reading
Adult Written bySarah Y. September 25, 2017

innaproriate for intended audience

Before allowing your child to read this book, you should know that In chapter 18, pages 222-224, one of the adult female characters admits to giving alcohol to... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old March 9, 2013


Flush was the first Carl Hiaasen book that I read, and right after I started, I new that it was the book for me! I love how it concentrates on environmental is... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 12, 2011

Great book!

Its a great book, and written by a great writer. Its about a guy who is doing something illegal. And there Dad is in jail for trying to fix it, now its up to No... Continue reading

What's the story?

Noah and Abbey's father is in jail for sinking a casino boat that he claims has been dumping raw sewage into the waters near their home in the Florida Keys. He has no proof, the owner of the boat denies it, and everyone in town thinks he's a crackpot. Their mother is going to divorce him unless he shapes up and gets his anger and impulsive behavior under control. So it's up to Noah and Abbey to prove that their father was right. But with everyone mad at their father, hired goons guarding the refloated boat, members of local law enforcement paid off by the owner, and the owner's son beating up on Noah, getting that proof looks well-nigh impossible. That is, until Noah comes up with a plan that involves a tattooed barmaid, a stolen motorboat, and 34 bottles of fuchsia food coloring.

Is it any good?

Part mystery, part caper, this environmental novel has action, humor, a bit of suspense, and some interesting characters. Flush is like a Hardy Boys book with potty humor. There are holes in the plot big enough to float a casino boat through, starting with why the owner is so determined to dump his bilges, thereby polluting the beach his own son swims in, instead of pumping them into a sewer tank. It's supposedly because the owner is a cheapskate, but pumping the sewage properly would presumably cost less than his hired goons, not to mention renovating his boat and paying $10,000 in fines. Bad guys are bad guys for no apparent reason, and good guys lie, steal, and vandalize, while their hearts are in the right place.

The resolution is unlikely, and there are some whopping coincidences, but if you try not to think too hard, it rolls along nicely and there's plenty of fun to be had here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fight to save the environment in Flush. What peaceful ways are there to protect the environment that don't involve illegal action?

  • Do the ends justify the means in some cases? is it OK to break the law if it's for a good cause? 

  • Do you think the father's actions were justified? What other choices could he have made?

Book details

  • Author: Carl Hiaasen
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
  • Publication date: September 25, 2005
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
  • Number of pages: 263
  • Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
  • Last updated: December 5, 2019

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