Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Highest Tide, Jim Lynch

The Highest Tide is a fiction story told from the perspective of a 13 year old boy who has a love of the Pacific Northwest waterways. He combs the tidal flats of the bay near his Olympia home. During his late night explorations he encounters unusual marine life that brings him attention.

Miles has a collection of interesting friends including a funny peer that provides comic relief and a fun insight into how teen boys educate each other about sex. Miles has a sweet relationship with a neighbor whom is a surrogate mother figure. She is also a seer and predicts some unusual activities that change the face of their small community.

In addition to Miles’ buddy, and psychic neighbor he is in love with the 18 year old hip and troubled neighbor and is mentored by her father. The relationship with his parents is strained and he struggles with the fact that their marriage isn’t as stable as he would prefer.

We didn’t have a lot to discuss regarding this story. We analyzed the relationships and reviewed the incredible amount of information provided about marine life. There didn’t seem to be an underlying message for the reader, but the story was enjoyable, the characters were diverse.

Unlike most discussions, we relied on the “book group questions” in the back of the book. That generally happens when we like the book, but the story is unremarkable.

Creative Writing

Oh gosh, the primary poster on this site has been distracted and is a book group meeting recaps behind. She will try to catch up before leaving for a 3 week holiday, but you may need to be happy with the following poem written by one of our members:

we’ve traveled the globe
from the Northern Territories
to the Congo,
from Mao’s China to Lincoln’s Civil War.

witnessing histories…mysteries…hilarities…atrocities.

we’ve delighted in
fish raining from the sky
and talking cats…and talking dogs
and bridges to counties
that span laughter
for more than a decade

we’ve become more human
by seeing life through the eyes
of gorillas,
and know-it-alls.

sixteen years of forty
have we shared this mutual admiration

of exploring new worlds

between the pages
of the past
the future
and within ourselves.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the stunning story of a young woman who was born into a strict Muslim family in Somalia and whose life took her to Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands and ultimately the US.

She questioned her upbringing, the interpretations of the Koran, stood up for herself and others, she got out of an arranged marriage, sought asylum, earned her college degree and even became a member of the Dutch Parliament.

She describes in detail the female castration ceremony. The act is described as painful and is frankly hard to read, but Ali also describes for the reader the cultural and social aspects of the act.

Throughout her story, Ali struggles with the incongruity she finds between the culture and norms she is born into and what she finds in real life. Her questioning of the "rules" costs her the relationship with her father, and the rest of her family. When she comes to the Netherlands she finds that her voice is one that people long to hear. She speaks out and becomes the target of death threats and is placed into protective custody - a protection that she finds oppressive.

Infidel is inspiring and in spite of the subject matter accessible. We discussed at length Ali's ability to change her narration style as her story progressed. When writing about life in Somalia as a young child Ali's 'voice' doesn't sound like that of a college educated member of Dutch Parliament.

Ali also does not vilify Muslims and takes care to honor them while she openly questions and discounts many of the teachings that she finds inconsistent.