Review | The Line Tender

SYNOPSIS: The Line Tender

The Line Tender is the story of Lucy, the daughter of a marine biologist and a rescue diver, and the summer that changes her life. If she ever wants to lift the cloud of grief over her family and community, she must complete the research her late mother began. She must follow the sharks.

the line tender - kate allen review


Lucy’s mom, Helen used to be a marine biologist, but died when Lucy was seven. Her dad, a rescue diver copes with the loss by immersing himself in work and leisure diving, so Lucy’s days are spent with her best friend, Fred. Fred is also interested in marine biology and both kids work on a related summer project.

But something happens that summer that changes Lucy’s life forever. She becomes more fascinated with her mother’s shark research and embarks on a mission to learn more about sharks, her mother, and the people in their lives.

The Good

This book is so beautifully written. Lucy is an astute, deep-thinking protagonist. In stories with such a niche focus — such as marine biology — the character’s internal dialogue can get a bit boring if readers don’t care about the topic. However, it’s not this way with Lucy. She has an engaging way of looking at life and other people around her.

The Line Tender centers quite a bit on grief and losing loved ones, so I was nervous to read it. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to deal with all the grief reviewers commented on. But it’s not just a sad book. Just like Coyote Sunrise, this book is brimming with wit, friendship, hope, love, — plus a lot of nature. The characters don’t “get over their grief,” but learn to live with it — and live well too.

A few other things I enjoyed were the depiction of life in a fishing/island town — very reminiscent of Shouting at the Rain. There’s also a great friendship between Fred and Lucy, even better than Ronan and Delsie’s. Finally, I learned A TON about sharks and marine life in general. I even learned something about rescue diving, which is what inspired this book’s title.

The narration of the audiobook is wonderful too. This book reminded me a teeny bit of Crawdads, and it’s focus on preserving the environment brought The Friendship Lie to mind.

The Bad

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — just something to note. I couldn’t help but think that this is one of those middle-grade books that seems written for adults and not kids. Very few kids I know would enjoy the writing style, the topic, and how heavy the grief theme might feel to some.

Still, it takes nothing away from this book — you’ll just need to look hard for a child reader. However, I imagine kids who’ve experienced such grief would find it priceless.


The Line Tender is an achingly beautiful middle-grade novel (more suited to adults). This book portrays death and grieving realistically, spotlights awe-inspiring marine life, and features an unforgettable female protagonist. If you enjoy reading about sharks, are on the hunt for a book about grief, or love books set in the summer, you’ll enjoy The Line Tender.

If you enjoy reading about sharks, are on the hunt for a book about grief, or love books set in the summer, you'll enjoy The Line Tender. Click To Tweet

Other Books Like The Line Tender

Shouting at the Rain (summer setting, island living, family dynamics)

cover of shouting at the rain - books like the line tender

The Friendship Lie (environmental focus)

cover of the friendship lie

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise (death and grieving, loss of a parent)

cover of the remarkable journey of coyote sunrise - books like the line tender

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Have you read this book? What did you think? What are your favorite death and grief books? I’d love to know!

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