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The Highest Tide

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  5,087 Ratings  ·  815 Reviews
"A poignant coming-of-age story and an enchanting primer on the life aquatic. The Highest Tide is as crisp and clean as a cool dip into the water, and just about as refreshing.--Entertainment Weekly

One moonlit night, thirteen-year-old Miles O'Malley sneaks out of his house and goes exploring on the tidal flats of Puget Sound. When he discovers a rare giant squid, he insta
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2005)
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May 23, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's ever looked into a rock pool and thought wow!
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: my sister
Aw, this book touched me in my special place. No, not that special place you filthy minded bunch. I am referring to that happy childhood place that was preserved within my heart before it became glacial with the hoare frost of the general cynicism that comes from working with idiots and generally being alive in the UK in the 21st century.

Life is a beach for wee Miles O'Malley. Although the wee moniker is a minor sticking point because he's nearly fourteen now and yet cruel fate, and genetics ha
Jul 21, 2007 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very excited to read this debut novel after seeing promising reviews in several trade magazines. My excitement nearly doubled after I got my hands on the book and saw an endorsement written by Katherine Dunn, whose novel, Geek Love, is one of my favorite books.

The Highest Tide describes the summer of a fourteen year old boy, Miles O’Malley, who happens upon several marine life phenomena on the tidal flats of Puget Sound. After Miles precociously comments to a reporter that his amazing dis
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Dianna Geers for

Miles says that most people don't believe him when he describes what he sees in the water--they often think he is exaggerating or lying. But when he finds something that is almost unbelievable to both himself and Professor Kramer, people begin seeing him a bit differently.

What he saw was a giant squid, which is usually a deep-ocean creature. The mystery of how such a creature would end up in the shallow waters of the Puget Sound caused quite a commot
Jan 13, 2014 Jim rated it it was ok
The Highest Tide starts out strong, but ends up going nowhere. I was intrigued by the characters and setting to begin the novel, but there is no real development as the novel proceeds. The main character, Miles, also provides the narration, which draws the reader away from the story with his inconsistency. Sometimes Miles comes off as a 14 year old kid, which he is, and at other times, he writes like a completely mature adult. I get that Miles is wise beyond his years, but Lynch seems to falter ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Agathafrye rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, local
I really liked this book, particularly when I could connect both the obvious and the thinly veiled Olympia area references. Miles is the kind of kid that I would have a soft spot for if he were a regular at the library. I thought the ending was a bit abrupt, and I grew slightly tired of the fawning over Angie Stegner, but other than that it was a good solid read that taught me a lot about the ecosystem in the bay. I would have given it five stars if the ending had been a little more thoughtful.
Sep 25, 2007 Nat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: enthusiastic readers of "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time"
Right, this is a "coming of age story" i.e., it's about the enchanted quality of puberty. I'm a sucker for these stories, and I really enjoyed this book. I'm also a fan of the borderlands motif - the seams where worlds meet - and a major feature of this story is loving descriptions of tidal marine life.
I think it goes well with "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time"; they're both stories of awkward boys amazed by the world, who have intellectual interests.
Oh there's some sort of m
Feb 16, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Miles O'Malley is thirteen, small for his age, and obsessed with Rachel Carson. He knows more than anyone else about the intricate workings of the small stretch of tidal mud flats along his part of Skookumchuck Bay. His best friends are Phelps, a wannabe bad-boy 13-year-old who blows smoke rings and plays air guitar like it's an artform; Angie, his former babysitter and current crush who's now a screwed-up young woman with a rock band; and Florence, an elderly neighbor and wildly inaccurate psyc ...more
Feb 01, 2009 Becky rated it liked it
I am continually surprised by what my library system offers as the "One Book, One County" reading selection. Actually I've been surprised so frequently that I really should cease being surprised.

I find it hard to believe this book would have an "universal" appeal.

Miles O'Malley, a 13-year old boy, who is short, an insomniac, a speed reading genius and is as in love with the older girl next door as he is with tidal pool marine life.

Miles stumbles across a rare sea creature and overnight becomes a
Nov 03, 2013 Maddy rated it liked it
I have mixed feeling about this book. First, I will never look at the ocean or any other body of water the same again. Second, I learned a lot about marine wildlife yet a lot if the book was only that. Long periods of time of facts and observations and miles' thoughts. This made it hard too keep up with the story line.
Stephanie (aka WW)
Mar 23, 2016 Stephanie (aka WW) rated it really liked it
This a surprisingly thoughtful coming-of-age story. The characters are well-drawn and memorable, and the story interesting in its focus on Pacific Northwest ocean life. I'm a sucker for scientific content and Miles' mudflat findings took me back to childhood visits to tidal pools.
Mary Rodeback
Dec 31, 2010 Mary Rodeback rated it really liked it
A compelling coming-of-age narrative set in the Pacific Northwest, this novel brings the magic of marine biology into conversation with a kind of early-teen Odyssey.
Feb 07, 2017 Debbie rated it really liked it
I LOVED this beautifully written book and seeing life through the eyes of an adolescent boy. It doesn't hurt it is set in our own Puget Sound. The author has a remarkable ability to describe the bay, the tides, the animal life with the richness and awe it deserves.
Aug 02, 2009 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub
This is the 2nd book I have read recently from the perspective of a 13 year old boy and it is a fantastic change from cynical and world weary adults. There are a thousand reasons to be cynical and world weary, I might feel that way myself from time to time, but the freshness and innocence of these books are amazing. You have to cultivate a little innocence and wonder. So I am also a marine biology/ocean geek, so I loved what I was reading about the tides and the discoveries Miles was making righ ...more
Simone Cooper
Jul 01, 2011 Simone Cooper rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teens and up; themes are challenging
Recommended to Simone by: Aaron Van de Graeff
This is a lyrical coming-of-age book about Miles, a Rachel Carson-obsessed, autistic-spectrum 13 year old boy who lives on the tidal flats at the southern edge of Puget Sound. It might also be a natural history; it is so infused with both love for the constantly changing world of the Sound and stunningly precise descriptions of both the sea life and the boy's internal states and growth.

With his parents growing apart in ways he doesn't understand, and his best friend an elderly woman who is rapid
Howard Cincotta
Dec 16, 2014 Howard Cincotta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The Highest Tide conjures a world of magic and enchantment not through creating a fantasy realm, but through minute observation and celebration of a very real and strange world – Skookumchuck in Olympia, Washington – the “soggy fog-draped bottom of the sound where the Pacific Ocean came to rest.”

These tidal flats are the domain of Miles O’Malley, 13. At night, Miles straps on a headlamp and explored the fertile mud flats, collecting clams, mussels, highly prized geoducks (pronounced “gooey-ducks
Jamie Ball
Dec 16, 2016 Jamie Ball rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2010 Cassie rated it really liked it
I read The Highest Tide immediately after reading Border Songs, even though Lynch wrote Tide first. I was, mistakenly, prepared to be disappointed. I actually recommend reading Border Songs first, otherwise that great book will seem like a letdown in comparison to The Highest Tide.

Lynch likes his protagonists a certain way: nonconformists and obsessive about some aspect of the natural world. In many ways, Miles is an even better character than Brandon. As Miles endures his thirteenth summer, he

Bryan Winchell
Sep 29, 2014 Bryan Winchell rated it really liked it
This is a great book for lovers of Nature, in particular tidal areas, and people who enjoy coming-of-age stories. I think it does particularly well with the Nature stuff, and not quite as successful at the growth of the character. Perhaps it was because I wanted to finish the book, but I found the ending a tad underwhelming and wasn't sure what exact growth the character had achieved. I may have just missed it, or speed through my ability to reflect upon it, so take that with a grain of salt.

Dec 22, 2007 Amy rated it it was amazing
This book was the perfect thoughtful Summer read. The protagonist is Miles O'Malley, a thirteen year old who lives in Olympia, WA, and spends most of his time on the tidal flats of the small bay where he lives.

Miles reads voraciously about subjects he is passionate or curious about, including marine biology, but also sex (he is 13, after all), and touchingly visits his elderly, ailing (she has something similar to Parkinson's) neighbor lady and brings her lunches. Even though he is definitely wi
Jenni Pertuset
Oct 10, 2009 Jenni Pertuset rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
So wonderfully well-written. The voice of Miles, the 13-year-old marine-life-expert narrator was spot on. The details in what he says and thinks are even wrong in exactly the right ways. For example, he sees someone practicing "slow-motion karate" and we know both that it's tai chi and that he wouldn't know it's tai chi. The romantic/sexual yearning subplot was unnecessary (and I probably appreciated it far less because without it, this would be a fantastic book to read to my girl) and anemic, t ...more
Akemi Norrish
Nov 23, 2013 Akemi Norrish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miles O'Malley is a 13 year old boy that is very fascinated by ocean life. Living near a bay ever since he was born, Miles knows practically everything about the sea. Discovering crazy sea creatures, he soon finds himself under a spot light. Dealing with his forever-arguing parents, saving the lives of his close friends, always being bombarded with reporters, Miles is no ordinary boy.

I must admit that this book was way better than Enders Game. The story was realistic and I could picture every sc
Bookmarks Magazine

This remarkable debut novel is one of the reasons people keep reading: occasionally, a book by a new author comes along and knocks your socks off. Lynch, formerly the Puget Sound correspondent with Portland's Oregonian, knows his terrain and describes the Puget Sound ecology with a poetic touch. Even more impressive, he has mastered the voice__and emotions__of a teenage boy. Finally, though this novel clearly conveys the beauty and fragility of the earth around us, Lynch is never preachy or heav

Jun 12, 2009 sylas rated it liked it
Recommended to sylas by: nat
Shelves: ya
This book contained extremely rich descriptions of tidal creatures and ocean behavior, which I found fascinating. I felt like there was just enough plot to go with the zoology, but didn't find myself particularly drawn in by the characters or the story. Except for Florence, who was by far the most interesting character in this novel.
As I read this book, I mainly found myself wondering why it is that EVERY ya book I read with a male main character is rife with lewd sexual comments, homophobia an
Jul 12, 2012 Wanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I read this novel all in one sitting. Couldn't put it down, even as the clock ticked past midnight (and I usually turn into a pumpkin at 10 pm).

I loved the main character, Miles, because I was a prairie-girl version of him. I spent all my free time either outdoors or reading (or reading outdoors). I was just as fascinated by prairie as he was by ocean. I must say, I envied his library and his contacts with academe. I was stuck with a small town library, far from any experts of any kind.

I also
Liz Ellen Vogan
May 09, 2013 Liz Ellen Vogan rated it really liked it
A heartening coming-of-age story told from the point of view of a young budding marine biologist/insomniac who has grown up with the ever-changing tidal life of Puget Sound right outside his room. There are loads of references to particular species of sea life and his wonderment at their habits and mating strategies (which are fascinating to read...I was constantly googling these creatures and wondering at them too). I was instantly enamored with young Miles O'Malley and had a great time rooting ...more
Lily Haug
Nov 13, 2014 Lily Haug rated it liked it
Thos book starts out with action in the first few pages, setting the stage for the whole story, and drawing readers in. It focuses on a boy named Miles, who is a young marine biologist. He lives in the Puget Sound, and studies wildlife there. He is a very relatable character, but I found he changed for the worse towards the end of the book. It is well written, and the story is exciting, full of many twists, but I feel like there was no climax, and that there were many lose ends. Overall, it is a ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing and inspirational tale about 13-year-old Miles who finds a giant squid in the hometown bay which he loves; Miles is knowledgeable about marine life, which he passes on to the reader in a very entertaining and absorbing way, but this discovery and subsequent unusual finds suddenly makes him a celebrity and his hometown a magnet for media interest. Although initially delighted, Miles soon finds the attention obtrusive and is torn between his new-found fame and the wish to lead a norm ...more
Jonathan Kleefeld
There is splendid natural description in here, and it is the major enjoyment of the book. The characters and particularly the story can't possibly match it, but they carry it along well enough. A few oddities intrude, such as thoughts and associations that don't seem to fit believably with the narrator and his likely experience. Great care, however is taken with the aforementioned descriptive heart of the novel, which buys some forgiveness.
Nov 30, 2016 Marshall rated it liked it
I personally found the book interesting enough but it was a bit slow.
I say this because I like the way they incorporate science in a story to make it more interesting to the "science" people. But at the same time I found it slow because he would sometimes drone on and on about a topic that hardly needed a few sentences.
Jun 04, 2008 Susey rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Margy
This is a coming of age story about a 13 year old boy. He's at an age of innocence and openness to the world that the author describes in a fascinating way. His connection to the tidal world of the Puget Sound is fascinating and the cast of characters unforgettable (and easily recognized). This book was a staff pick at Powell's Books in Portland and was very well liked by my book club (16 members read it). We had really interesting discussions about the book and it's characters.
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Jim Lynch is the author of the novels The Highest Tide, Border Songs and Truth Like the Sun, all of which were performed on stage and won prizes, including an Indies Choice Honor Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and a Dashiell Hammett Prize finalist. His next novel, Before the Wind, will be released in April 2016. As a newspaper reporter, Lynch has won national awards, including t
More about Jim Lynch...

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“I hate myself pretty often" .She tilted her face back on the pillow, damning tears and attempting so smile at the same time. "Pretty fucking often” 17 likes
“When Rachel Carson accepted the National Book Award, she said, 'if there is poetry in my book about the sea it is not because I deliberately put it there but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out poetry.” 10 likes
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