My dad, a voracious reader, recommended this book to me. He happened to come across Learning to Swim
at the library, and the title intrigued him because I was a competitive swimmer for many years and he was always a supportive Swim Dad. The novel actually has very little to do with competitive swimming, but I'm glad Ms. Henry titled it what she did because I probably would've missed this gem otherwise.
What would you
do if you were on a ferry crossing cold Lake Champlain and thought you saw a young boy tossed off another ferry passing by? I probably would've yelled for help, but the time it would've taken to stage a rescue would've likely left the boy dead from drowning. The heroine of this story, Troy Chance (yes her name is actually Troy!) didn't call for help; rather she dived in to rescue him.
What would you
do if you somehow swam to shore with the barely conscious boy clinging to your back (like Troy did)? You'd call the police, right? Not Troy! Believing someone tried to murder the wispy French-speaking 6 year-old, Troy takes him home and nurses him back to health.
Next, Troy begins to unravel the mystery surrounding the boy Paul. Where are his parents? Who can she trust? How can she attach herself to this boy so quickly and completely?
My favorite part of the story is the character of Troy. She's independent and strong yet also real and flawed. I never knew what she was going to do next. Many times I cringed at her poor choices but then she'd make it right. Paul was very sweet, and the secondary characters of Philippe and Claude kept me guessing. I also enjoyed learning more about Lake Placid and Ottawa.
This is Sara Henry's debut novel, and in many ways it's impressive. One aspect I didn't like was the setting for the big reveal . . . the event seemed to come out of the blue without much set-up, and the connection between two characters appeared forced, like it was inserted just to make the mystery work. I also felt a little down at the realistic ending.
I think I'll choose this novel for my book club's read next month, and I look forward to hearing their opinions!