A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lucy picks up where her marine biologist mother left off -- researching sharks and their habits becomes her mission in the story. Very detailed exploration of shark anatomy includes a necropsy (an autopsy of a shark) described very realistically.
Don't resist pain; let yourself feel it. Adapt and adjust to life. The best defense for anything is a good job. Real women take risks. Talking to people about your feelings helps to sort them out. Everyone deals with loss differently, and that's OK. People can love each other their whole lives through.
Positive Role Models
Lucy is a girl among men. Her dad is a widower, her neighbor, Mr. Patterson, is like a grandfather, and Sookie, her mom and dad's friend, is always around. They watch out for Lucy in their imperfect, sometimes clumsy ways. Lucy confides in a school adjustment counselor, Mr. Scanlon, to get help when she's grieving.
Violence & Scariness
A main character dies in an accident after engaging in underage drinking. Lucy's father is a detective who pulls victims out of the water "dead or alive." A parent gets drunk and frightens a tween with her angry behavior. Gory details of fishing-related injuries and very graphic shark autopsy describe bloody messes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lucy's dad is naked in the yard, putting on his scuba suit, which a neighbor notices and comments about his hairy behind. Lucy can't take her eyes off the breasts of a comic book heroine. Kids talk and joke about sex organs of animals. Preteens kiss.
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"Jesus," "crap", "farty," bitches," "pissed," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Tootsie Rolls, Midol, Volvo, Silver Palate Cookbook, Tang, Red Sox, Vaseline, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Marvel Comics, Boone's Farms, Wild Turkey, Colt 45, Boston Whaler, Herbie Hancock, Oakley, Canada Dry, Moxie soda, Cumberland Farms, IGA, Coke, Greenpeace, Popsicle, Doritos, Cheerios
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A tween drinks too much alcohol and dies in an accident. Alcohol includes Boone's Farm, Colt 45, Wild Turkey, wine. Underage drinking and trespassing in the story lead to risky behavior. A parent drinks too much and behaves threateningly to the extent that Lucy admits being "terrified."
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.