A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kate Allen's The Line Tender deals with deaths of a parent and a peer. Underage drinking and consequent risky behavior result in a character's death. Some nonsexual adult nudity, adult drunkenness, and neglectful parenting take place. Lucy has trouble swallowing because of a traumatic event, and she loses a lot of weight as a consequence, An extremely graphic autopsy of a shark includes description of dead shark pups still in the mother shark's uterus. The mother shark's jaws are sawed out of her mouth: "It was a bloody mess that turned all of the shark's white parts pink-orange." A character then holds the "dripping jaws" in the air and has a photo taken. Though done in the name of biology, the dissection is graphic and could be jarring to sensitive readers.
What's the story?
In THE LINE TENDER, almost-13-year-old Lucy Everhart feels compelled to finish the life's work that her deceased mother left behind. This work is about discovering the secrets behind the mysterious lives of sharks. The year is 1991-- before Google was a thing-- and the place is the seaport town of Rockport, Massachusetts. When a local fisherman named Sookie reels in a gargantuan white shark, Lucy and her friend Fred decide to investigate. But its disappearance and an ensuing tragedy pull Lucy deeper into the unfinished research that her marine biologist mother left behind. She gets Sookie, her injured father, and the grandfatherly neighbor to help her follow her mother's research, taking them to Maine and Cape Cod. All the while, Lucy looks at the grief that she carries in her body and her psyche, and finds a strength she didn't know she possessed.
Is it any good?
Nature plays a starring role in this story of stunning loss that's poignant, stark, and at times funny. In The Line Tender, Lucy Everhart carries a heavy load as a child who lost her mom at age 7 and whose dad is rarely around to put food in the fridge. When a friend tragically dies, her obsession with her late-mother's research blossoms. She finds that she needs to make sense of her mom's life work in order to make sense of her own life. These things feel realistic.The description of life in a coastal town is vividly and intimately described.
But, kids might notice that Lucy's voice is not always in tune with her age. She's 12, but she sometimes sounds like a 25-year-old graduate student. ("My body was starting to show signs of weight loss after only two weeks.") Describing her mother in a video, she mentions "watching her navigate a strange world so capably." But then she describes the sound of the police radio as "farty." It makes Lucy seem a little random, as if she's not a fully fleshed-out character grounded in her age. But the setting and the action feel real, and readers who interested in marine life will get to know sharks nearly as well as the humans observing them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Lucy copes with death in The Line Tender. Is there a specific way that characters in books or movies cope with death? What's normal?
What happens when a relationship changes from friendship to romance? What are the risks? Is the media realistic about how preteens date?
How does Lucy get adults to help her follow her interests? What interests do you have that might turn into a career?
- Author: Kate Allen
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date: April 16, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: May 23, 2019
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