Grayson by Lynne Cox

August 20, 2006
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Grayson
Lynne Cox

Knopf
8/20/2006
Hardcover/148 pages
ISBN: 0-307-26454-8
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". . . a welcome and beautifully written diversion."

This slim volume, Grayson, reports Lynne Cox’s encounter with a baby gray whale in the waters off Long Beach and provides a welcome and beautifully written diversion. Cox’s straightforward prose at once immerses readers in the fifty-five degree Pacific waters along with the then teenaged Cox on her daily early morning swim. It does it so eloquently that we brave everything from sonic waves to breaching whales with the same calm thoughtfulness as she did all those years ago.

 

The ocean is clearly different on the morning in question both in its feel and in the fish. It’s not until she’s at the end of her regular swim, tired and ready to go home to breakfast, that she realizes she’s picked up a baby gray whale along the way. If Cox gets out of the water, the confused calf most likely will try to follow her. And, if it does so, it will die.

Cox swims out to the reef again and again to try to find the baby’s missing mother who she realizes is out there somewhere in the vast ocean. Fishermen and oil riggers and others on shore enlist in the search, making for an early morning drama not unlike The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air. Without divulging the outcome, let it be said Cox’s prose will have the reader turning pages.

Long-distance swimmer Cox affords even the ocean-phobic an opportunity to imagine the joys and pitfalls of her passion. The irritation of sand in her swimsuit: “If I didn’t stop now it would soon be worse than running with a pebble in my shoe.” The thrill of swimming with albacore tuna: “I enjoyed feeling the way the water wavered and yawed as the tuna zipped to the right and left of me.” Cox communicates with the baby whale by looking into his grey eye; he returns the gaze. The reader has no doubt that the two are indeed exchanging not just looks but thoughts and ideas about how to find his mother.

Perfect for a plane ride, an evening in a hotel, or simply a quiet afternoon at home, Grayson is a destination well worth the journey. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lisa Lenard Cook

 

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