Book Review: The Line Tender

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5 out of 5

The Line Tender is a middle grade novel about Lucy Everhart, 12, whose mother, a shark expert, had died five years previously.  Water and sharks play a mercurial role in the story as Lucy comes to term with another devastating loss.

What drew me to this book?

  • The cover with its underwater motif and the contrasting colors of orange against the blue gray background. And who doesn’t love a cover with a whale and an octopus?
  •  The girl drawing. Her and a friend have a Field Journal summer project where she draws and he writes. That speaks to me.

book coverIt’s summer in Rockport, Massachusetts, where Lucy and her best friend, Fred, get caught up in all the news of great white sightings in the area. The duo had begun a naturalist field guide as part of an extra-credit project for school. Fred is the scientist and Lucy the illustrator. When the great whites start appearing, Lucy and Fred begin adding this information to their field guide.  Lucy’s mother, who had been a marine-biologist and shark specialist, appears in old news clips, and Lucy and Fred incorporate some of the information in her mother’s old research papers.

The supporting cast of characters include Lucy’s father, a rescue diver; her widowed neighbor, Mr Patterson; and fisherman, Sookie, who catches one of the great whites. These characters add support, humor, and depth to Lucy’s story.

The line tender is reference to when a scuba diver goes on a rescue dive and someone is there to hold the line, keeping the diver safe. Both literal and metaphorical, the Line Tender is a story about resilience and finding oneself while being supported by loved ones – in the present and in the past.

This is Kate Allen’s debut novel.

From the publisher:

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.

The Line Tender

by Kate Allen

Penguin Young Readers Group. 384 pp. $17.99

April 2019

5 out of 5 stars

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Hello! I love all things stationery, papery, epistolary including planners, office supplies, mail, postcards, doodles, desks and organization, postage stamps and mail art.


  1. Hester on January 1, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    Lovely story & wonderful illustrations It would have caught my attention in a bookstore
    thank you for continuing to update your blog

    long time fan

    • Jackie on January 1, 2020 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks for the kind words and the encouragement! Much appreciated.

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