Grayson – Lynne Cox – book review
This is a 150 page novella about a 17 year old girl who is swimming in the sea off a California beach when a baby whale swims up along side her. I read this for one of my book groups, this one was Sin City Bookers who meet once monthly on Thursday mornings. I don’t think I would have chosen it otherwise. I like a story to last at least 300 pages, I can’t really get into short stories. It was a nice enough read, though.
The writer, Lynne, is a strong swimmer and has completely some major ocean swims and broken some records. This story is supposedly a true account of what happened to her 30 years ago when she was 17 and out training. I think I like it more knowing that it’s true. Or true-ish, in my opinion. The story opens with her out on a normal swim and about half a dozen different species swims past her, it’s beautifully described, and I’m sure over the course of her training she did come across all these species, but I think she takes a little bit of artistic license in suggesting that all these companions swam up to her on this day. I think swimming in the ocean would be very cumbersome if that were the case.
So, the baby whale swims up to her, and they form a bond very quickly. It seems that his mother has lost him and Lynne takes it open herself to help him find her. She does this by swimming around with him in the 55 degree water. She takes some risks for this baby whale’s safety. She spends really a bit longer than is sensible in this cold water, she swims out further than she should, and risks being hit by boats, and she swims too close to a dangerously barnacled pier. She also takes several very well-described and scary deep, long dives.
Our book group discussion leader for the day, Kathy, had drawn out a detailed map of Lynne and the whale’s course as they searched for the whale’s mother. This was really helpful, and I wish I had thought of doing something so clever. My book was from the library so I slipped Kathy’s map in the back for the next reader to use if they wanted.
It must have been an incredible experience and very memorable, which is why she is able to tell the story so well 30 years after it happened. She may consider herself a swimmer first and a writer second, I don’t know, but Lynne Cox is certainly a gifted writer and she truly took me into the ocean with her that day. It’s a lovely story.