Summary and book reviews of Grayson by Lynne Cox

Grayson

by Lynne Cox

Grayson
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2006, 160 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2008, 160 pages

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Book Summary

The true story of long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox's ocean encounter with an 18-foot baby whale and her efforts to reunite "Grayson" with his mother - part mystery, part magical tale.

Grayson is Lynne Cox's first book since Swimming to Antarctica ("Riveting"—Sports Illustrated; "Pitch-perfect"—Outside). In it she tells the story of a miraculous ocean encounter that happened to her when she was seventeen and in training for a big swim (she had already swum the English Channel, twice, and the Catalina Channel).

It was the dark of early morning; Lynne was in 55-degree water as smooth as black ice, two hundred yards offshore, outside the wave break. She was swimming her last half-mile back to the pier before heading home for breakfast when she became aware that something was swimming with her. The ocean was charged with energy as if a squall was moving in; thousands of baby anchovy darted through the water like lit sparklers, trying to evade something larger. Whatever it was, it felt large enough to be a white shark coursing beneath her body.

It wasn't a shark. It became clear that it was a baby gray whale—following alongside Lynne for a mile or so. Lynne had been swimming for more than an hour; she needed to get out of the water to rest, but she realized that if she did, the young calf would follow her onto shore and die from collapsed lungs.

The baby whale—eighteen feet long!—was migrating on a three-month trek to its feeding grounds in the Bering Sea, an eight-thousand-mile journey. It would have to be carried on its mother's back for much of that distance, and was dependent on its mother's milk for food—baby whales drink up to fifty gallons of milk a day. If Lynne didn't find the mother whale, the baby would suffer from dehydration and starve to death.

Something so enormous—the mother whale was fifty feet long—suddenly seemed very small in the vast Pacific Ocean. How could Lynne possibly find her?

This is the story—part mystery, part magical tale—of what happened . . .

One

There's something frightening, and magical, about being on the ocean, moving between the heavens and the earth, knowing that you can encounter anything on your journey.

The stars had set. The sea and sky were inky black, so black I could not see my hands pulling water in front of my face, so black there was no separation between the sea and the sky. They melted together.

It was early March and I was seventeen years old, swimming two hundred yards offshore, outside the line of breaking waves off Seal Beach, California. The water was chilly, fifty-five degrees and as smooth as black ice. And I was swimming on pace, moving at about sixty strokes per minute, etching a small silvery groove across the wide black ocean.

Usually my morning workouts started at 6 a.m., but on this day, I wanted to finish early, get home, complete my ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
A bestseller that captured the imaginations of readers coast-to-coast, Grayson is the exhilarating account of an encounter between a baby whale and a teenage swimmer in the busy ocean waters near Seal Beach, California. Lynne Cox would go on to set world records for open-water swimming around the globe, becoming a high-profile author and speaker. But the hours she spent on that special morning helping a young gray whale search for its mother will forever rank as some of the most incredible experiences of her life.

The story begins in the predawn hours, when Lynne was in the midst of her rigorous daily swim. When she felt a decidedly out-of-the-ordinary energy in the water, she eventually realized that a massive creature ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I opened this little book (160 small pages) with a certain degree of trepidation because animal stories, whether they be tales of favored pets or encounters in the wild, are a mixed bag. My worries didn't last long - Grayson is a pure delight that reads like a fable but is actually true. At the center of the story is Lynne Cox, now a renowned long-distance swimmer, but then just a 17-years-old out for a practice swim early one morning in the waters off Seal Beach in Southern California.

The whale tale forms the center of the story but, for me, it was the bit players that stole the show - the rays wallowing in the warm water under the pier, the sun fish snoozling close to the legs of the oil rig and the green sea turtles "carrying their homes along with them like aquatic RVs".   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (759 words).

Media Reviews

Elle

A riveting adventure celebrating the mysterious bond between a champion swimmer and one wayward calf.

Publishers Weekly

The combination of retelling her once-in-a-lifetime experience with her observations on life will have timeless appeal for all ages.

Booklist - Vanessa Bush

This book is moving and thrilling in its simple language as Cox laments the inadequacy of words to express profound feelings but demonstrates the exhilaration of the effort.

VOYA - Paula Brehm-Heeger

Although the initial chapters lack the suspense and action of the latter half of the book, teens who stick with this quiet tale of hope and perseverance will be richly rewarded.

Kirkus Reviews

The narrative transports readers to the majestic, wonderful world of the ocean .... Still, transforming the story of one afternoon into a book-length fable, even a short book-length fable, is a bit of a stretch .... Nonetheless, an inspirational, almost spiritual read, perfect for gift-giving.

Author Blurb Carl Hiaasen
Grayson would be compelling enough as a fable about a young woman and a lost whale. The fact that it’s true makes the story wondrous, and unforgettable.

Author Blurb Anne Rice
A story of remarkable simplicity and charm. A young swimmer invites us into sea off the coast of California where through her eyes we see an entire realm of creatures we have never known so intimately before. Truly for people of all ages, Lynne Cox’s adventure with the baby whale, Grayson, becomes a parable and an experience, thanks not only to the author’s great and generous spirit, but through her immense gift for describing nature.

Author Blurb Jane Goodall
A story of remarkable simplicity and charm. A young swimmer invites us into sea off the coast of California where through her eyes we see an entire realm of creatures we have never known so intimately before. Truly for people of all ages, Lynne Cox’s adventure with the baby whale, Grayson, becomes a parable and an experience, thanks not only to the author’s great and generous spirit, but through her immense gift for describing nature.”

Author Blurb John Grogan, author of Marley & Me
A moving and memorable story, filled with dramatic tension and loving descriptions of the sea and all the wondrous creatures it holds. Grayson is a celebration of the natural world in all its glory, and the deep and lasting effect it can have on us humans if only we pause to notice.

Reader Reviews

leopard

Grayson
Grayson is definitely a worthwhile book.

Wylee Sanders and rest of English class

Required Read, a Let Down
I was excited to be assigned this memoir to read in school, how interesting, I had thought. Two paragraphs and I was dreading the rest of the book. It did not captivate me at all and when I surveyed the rest of the class, we had all disliked the book...   Read More

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Adult Gray Whales weigh 30-40 tons and measure about 45 feet (14 meters); they have dark skin with gray patches and white mottling, the calves are born dark gray to black (sometimes with distinctive white markings). They are baleen whales (with a series of 130-180 fringed overlapping plates hanging from each side of the upper jaw in lieu of teeth), as such they feed by drawing sediment and water into their mouths, expelling the water and sediment through the baleen plates, leaving the trapped food ready to be swallowed.

Courtship and mating behavior are ...

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