cover image Riding the Waves

Riding the Waves

Theresa Tomlinson. MacMillan Publishing Company, $13.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-02-789207-9

Matt, in his first year at Seaburn Bay Comprehensive, dreams of joining the surfers who gather at the seashore of his small, dingy English town. But with his father away in search of work and his mother preoccupied with running a bed-and-breakfast, Matt's chances of donning the necessary equipment and hitting the waves seem increasingly unlikely. Instead, a school assignment obliges Matt to visit Florrie, a garrulous old woman who was a friend of his grandmother. Matt must listen to Florrie's tales and memories and gossip. Surprisingly, it is Florrie who provides Matt an entree to the surfers, a development which cements Florrie and Matt's friendship. As they learn each other's secrets (Florrie once gave away a child, Matt is adopted), Matt discovers a sense of belonging that had always eluded him. The unlayering of the various underlying themes is slow, even laborious, but Florrie is lively and credible, and her evolving relationship with Matt gives the story a powerful center. Ages 9-13. (Apr.)