HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Final Tide
Author: Norma Cole
Publisher: Jesse Stuart Foundation, republished in 1999
ISBN-13: 978-0689505102 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0689505108 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0945084747 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0945084749 ((Paperback)
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 11 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Cole, Norma. The Final Tide (published in 1990 by Margaret K. McElderry Books; republished in 1999 by The Jesse Stuart Foundation, P. O. Box 391, Ashland, KY 41114). It is 1948, and fourteen year old Geneva Augusta Haw lives on a farm in the Cumberland River Valley bottom of southern Kentucky with her father Dade and mother Mattie. She will be going into the eighth grade at the small Hawford school and wants to go on to high school in the town after that, but her father isn’t sure that she will be able to do so. Down the road lives her Uncle Bart, Aunt Ina, and favorite cousin and best friend Alice, along with younger cousins Kendall, James, Betty Lou, Tad, and baby Sissy. And beyond them lives her Granny, Mrs. Augusta Kendall Hall, known as Gussie, who sometimes appears to be slightly senile. Every spring, the rains cause a flooding of the river bottom which is called “the tide” and brings rich nutrients to the soil.
However, this year there will be a “final tide” as the Wolf Creek Dam will be completed and turn the entire valley into a lake. Geneva, her father, her uncle, and their families know that they will have to move. However, Granny Haw refuses to consider moving from her home with its “treasures in blue jars” because she is determined to keep a promise to her departed husband to be buried beside him, so she insists that she will not permit his remains to be moved from the nearby cemetery nor leave herself. She just knows that the Lord will call her to heaven before the time comes to move and is thus simply waiting to die. What will happen to Granny? Will Geneva be able to go on to high school and how? And what are those “treasures in blue jars”? As to language, there are some common euphemisms (drat, durn) and the term “Lordy” is used. Once Geneva utters the “d” word, but quickly changes it to “drat,” and once Uncle Bart says the “h” word. And references to school dances occur.
Other than this, The Final Tide is an enjoyable young adult story about how a family deals with change and handles the problems which this change brings that would be good for middle grade and young high school students. The conversations follow the speech patterns of rural Kentucky but are rendered in a way that is easier to read than some books using colloquial dialect. Many people will appreciate the close, inter-generational family relationships which are portrayed. Also, religion has obviously played an important part in their lives. Author Norma Cole was born and reared in South Dakota, and spent many years in Michigan where she raised her family and taught school, but eventually moved to Monticello, KY, where she enjoys writing for children. Her novel about the Haws is based on extensive research and stories which she heard from her neighbors. It has been turned into a play entitled And the Tide Shall Cover the Earth.