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The Line Tender
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The Line Tender
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Funny, poignant, and deeply moving, The Line Tender is a story of nature's enduring mystery and a girl determined to find meaning and connection within it.Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart's...
Funny, poignant, and deeply moving, The Line Tender is a story of nature's enduring mystery and a girl determined to find meaning and connection within it.Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart's...
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  • Funny, poignant, and deeply moving, The Line Tender is a story of nature's enduring mystery and a girl determined to find meaning and connection within it.
    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.
    ★"Confidently voiced."—Kirkus Reviews, starred
    ★"Richly layered."—Publishers Weekly, starred
    ★"A hopeful path forward."—Booklist, starred
    ★"Life-affirming."—BCCB, starred
    ★"Big-hearted." —Bookpage, starred
    ★"Will appeal to just about everyone." – SLC, starred

Excerpts-

  • From the book Chapter 4.
    Empty House


    Dad spent more time underwater than he spent on land. He was a scuba diver, both professionally and recreationally. If he wasn't hauling people out of the water (dead or alive) with the rest of the Salem Police dive team, he was hunting our lobster dinner off the coastline near our house. It was typical for Dad to receive a call from the dive team outside his regular hours at the police station. Salem Police divers did double duty, working regular shifts as uniformed police officers or detectives, but also responding to emergency situations. It seemed like there had been more calls than usual that summer—people driving off bridges or swimming in dangerous waters. I didn't like it when he was gone. When he was at the bottom of some harbor, the house felt empty. But he was always moving like a shark, swimming in order to breathe.

    That night, I learned later, some moron had driven his truck into Salem Harbor and that Dad was called to the accident scene to help fish him out. There was a mostly thawed block of chicken on the countertop that Dad might have cooked had he stayed home that evening. I didn't know the first thing about transforming raw meat into dinner, so I sat at the kitchen table and leaned over a copy of the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. Some of the recipes had my mom's notes in the margin. It was always strange to see her handwriting, to see something that was so distinctly hers and that was still here.

    "Check at twenty-five minutes!" she wrote.

    "Can substitute with olive oil," in another place.

    She had been gone five years. Most of the time, Dad and I were okay without Mom, even though I still thought about her every day. But my grief for her was like a circle. I always came around to missing her again. It could be a birthday that triggered the new cycle or something more unexpected, like finding something in a drawer that belonged to her.

    I started reading the recipe names in a whisper. "This one sounds simple. 'Whole Chicken Baked in Salt. Lemon and ginger cooked in the cavity perfumes the bird.'"

    But the recipe called for four pounds of Kosher salt. Four pounds. I wondered how a chicken cooked in four pounds of salt was still edible. When I reached the part where the chicken cooks for two hours in a wok, I closed the book. We didn't have a wok. Or four pounds of salt.

    I opened the fridge. The combination of old food and nothing made me lonely. I pulled out the garbage can from under the sink and started pitching—lettuce, both rusted and soggy; fourteen-day-old moo shu pork that looked deceptively edible; and peaches with skin like a mummy's. There was half a Corningware dish of lasagna from last weekend. I imagined bacterial colonies beginning to creep up, so I used a knife to wiggle it out of the pan and let it flop into the garbage, which had just about reached its limit.

    I wiped the shelves with a wet rag. Now we were left with nothing—a half gallon of milk, a pitcher of Tang, some onions, and a door full of stuff in jars. I poured a glass of the orange drink, grabbed a short stack of stale saltines from the pantry, and walked into the den. I gotta learn how to cook.

    Through the open window I could hear the leaves rustling in frequent swirls of wind and Mr. Patterson listening to dueling radios on his porch—the Red Sox on WEEI and a police scanner. It was an odd and familiar sound—Joe Castiglione's voice and the crack of the bat, layered with occasional farty blips and cryptic messages between cops and dispatchers. I didn't hear anything from the dive team.

    Eventually I walked over to the TV...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from January 15, 2019
    Lucy finds solace in her late mother's passion for shark biology during a summer that brings a new grief.First-person narrator Lucy and neighbor Fred are compiling a field guide to animals they find near their Rockport, Massachusetts, home. Lucy is the artist, Fred the scientist, and their lifelong friendship is only just hinting that it could become something more. Lucy's mother, who died of a brain aneurysm when Lucy was 7, five years earlier in 1991, was a recognized shark biologist; her father is a police diver. When a great white is snagged by a local fisherman--a family friend--video footage of an interview with Lucy's mother surfaces on the news, and Lucy longs to know more. But then another loved one dies, drowned in a quarry accident, and it is Lucy's father who recovers the body--in their small community it seems everyone is grappling with the pain. Lucy's persistence in learning about the anatomy of sharks in order to draw them is a kind of homage to those she's lost. Most of the characters are white; a marine scientist woman of color and protégée of Lucy's mother plays a key role. Allen offers, through Lucy's voice, a look at the intersection of art, science, friendship, and love in a way that is impressively nuanced and realistic while offering the reassurance of connection. Rich, complex, and confidently voiced. (Historical fiction. 11-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2019

    Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Lucy Everhart is growing up in the 90s in Rockport, MA, five years after her mother, a marine-biologist and shark specialist, passed away. As a summer assignment, she creates a field guide with her best friend, Fred, who is as much of a science enthusiast as Lucy's mother was. Her relationship with Fred becomes more complicated as the two begin developing feelings for one another-then Fred suddenly dies in an accident. Lucy copes with his death by delving into her mother's unfinished research with the help of her father, a local fisherman, and an elderly neighbor. The four form a bond which helps them all to overcome their own personal struggles. Lucy is a grounded, relatable character and the way she processes her grief is believable. Allen skillfully tackles the difficult issues without becoming too didactic or morose. The inclusion of women scientists, including Lucy's mother and, later, one of Lucy's mother's colleagues, is welcome as is Lucy's own budding interest in marine biology. A two-page black-and-white sketch of a different shark accompanies each chapter, reflecting Lucy's own affinity for art. VERDICT Thoughtful and moving, this coming-of-age middle grade novel is a worthwhile addition to any collection serving middle school students.-Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 18, 2019
    In Rockport, Mass., budding artist and narrator Lucy, 12, does everything with her best friend Fred, a keen scientist, including writing an extra credit field guide to local wildlife (he researches, she illustrates). When family friend and fisherman Sookie accidentally catches a great white shark, TV stations broadcast old footage of Lucy’s marine biologist mother, a shark expert who died suddenly when Lucy was seven, dredging up old feelings for the girl. Romantic tension begins to crackle between Lucy and Fred, but a tragic swimming accident at the local quarry plunges the entire town into grief, and Lucy and her depressed detective father must recover once again. Firmly rooted with a strong sense of place and sketched with powerful sensory details, the narrative offers a colorful multigenerational cast that comes together to help Lucy learn more about her mother’s work and begin to heal her own heart. Allen tackles the complexities of grief with subtly wry humor and insight in this richly layered middle grade debut about the power of science and love. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. Ages 10–up.

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