Book Review: Grayson by Lynne Cox
One of my teacher friends recommended this quick read to me saying it was not great literature, but it was a sweet inspiring story of this amazing athlete and her journey with this lost baby gray whale. I think my teacher friend may be under the impression that I read a great deal of fancy pants literature, which I do not. While I am not a sports person, I still decided to give this story a try.
I have not categorized any books as a book by a female author for my 2015 Reading Challenge, and as someone who does not play sports or root for any team, I felt like reading about this record-breaking channel swimmer's adventure would be a good stretch for me.
When I opened the book, I immediately loved the map! Who doesn't love having maps in their books? I spent several minutes reading and studying the various labels.
And I really like that Lynne Cox is recalling events from when she was 17 years old and training for even more open water swimming. It's like an extended personal narrative with heart!
The story reads quickly. I spent two Saturday mornings with this book, enjoying an hour or so of reading before gearing up for my day. Cox moves her plot along quickly. Her beautiful descriptions of the sea creatures consistently made me feel like I was swimming with her. She regards these creatures, their life cycles, and their needs with reverence.
A few of her passages really hit home with me.
On her journey to try to reunite Grayson with his mom, Cox had several helpers. She writes that one of the local fisherman Carl told her "sometimes the important things take time, sometimes they don't happen all at once, sometimes answers come out of time and struggle, and learning. Sometimes you just have to try again in a different way."
Later, Grayson dives into the water and Cox is waiting over ten minutes debating whether she should swim back to shore. Her description of her thought process struck me as incredibly zen-like and mindful. I was impressed by her patience.
She writes, "Wait as long as you need to. The waiting is as important as the doing: it's the time you spend training and the rest in between; it's painting the subject and the space in between; it's the reading and the thinking about what you've read; it's the written words, what is said, what is left unsaid, the space between the thoughts on the page, that makes the story, and it's the space between the notes, the intervals between fast and slow, that makes the music. It's the love of being together, the spacing, the tension of being apart, that brings you back together. Just wait, just be patient, he will return."
Of course Grayson returned. And, of course, he was reunited with his mom. Reading the details about the reunion and the moment in the water when the mama whale locked eyes with Cox was moving. While our languages are different, I think there are some emotions that transcend language. And I very much felt that incomparable communication in Cox's description of her interactions with Grayson and his mom.
In her epilogue, Cox shares some of the stories and connections she has received from readers. I especially liked hearing how so many teachers at different grade levels were sharing this story with their students. Some of the projects the students completed were impressive.
If you like feel-good stories that allow you to personally connect with the characters or problem, then Grayson is worth reading. The TEDx Talk below gives you a sense of Cox's storytelling. Her microphone cuts in and out a couple of times, but her stories about swimming various channels and how the sea of change affected her are quite engaging.