Enjoying a much-needed break from the daily bump and grind, I have consumed several great books this week. One was Flush by Carl Hiaasen, a young adult novel. Set in the Florida Keys, the drama begins when teenager Noah goes to visit his recently imprisoned father (Paine), who is being punished for sinking one of the local casino boats. Being an advocate for the environment, Paine clams that the owner of the boat has been dumping raw sewage from the casino into the water, and his solution was to get rid of the source by sinking the boat. What follows is an interesting (though fairly predictable) series of events that eventually lead to the conviction of the casino owner. There are a few questionable holes in the plot, such as why would an eco-freak exacerbate an already poor situation for nature by pouring oil, gasoline, and other harmful waste products into the water by sinking a boat?

As I read this book, a random thought kept tickling the back of my brain. Now I want to explore this thought a little further and welcome anyone to weigh in on my little theory. As I read, I was struck with how closely Flush resembled To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (which, by the way, if you have not read, run- do not walk- to your local library immediately to get it!). My theory is supported by the following points:
1. It is set in the author’s home town, written with the intention of exposing dark secrets to the light of public knowledge.
2. The story is drenched with descriptions of the culture of that area, which is essential to the plot.
3. The main character’s family is ostracized and the children feel it necessary to defend their father, who has gone “against the grain” to act upon his convictions.
4. There is a mysterious secret hero who watches over the children and ultimately is their rescuer in times of danger.

Overall, despite the blatantly authoritarian liberties Hiaasen takes with directing the plot, the book serves a nice purpose of attempting to increase awareness of protecting our aqua ecosystems. Consider it highly recommended for mature students in grades 5 and up. Be forewarned, however, that towards the end of the book there are surprising and abrupt (and completely unnecessary) uses of profanity.


  1. Profanity? Why at the end of the book? My thoughts on your theory is that most stories do mimic other stories. I think it is a good way to judge an author - is this a new train of thought or is he mimicking?

  2. My sentiments exactly! All through the book you hustle and bustle along with the adventures of Noah and his family as they try to exonerate good old law-breaking Dad. It's a squeaky clean book-until you get about 80% of the way through it. Then-BAM- Hiaasen drops curse words as though they've been part of the culture of the book all along.

    I'm not saying that profanity should be banned from literature. I think words-regardless of whatever stigma they carry-should ALWAYS be chosen wisely and with utter concern for supporting the overall theme of the work.

    I suspect that I am in the minority on this one...


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