Monday, July 13, 2009

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

As I have said before: I loved Jackson's first book gods in Alabama, and found her second one Between, Georgia, only so-so. So I did not know what to expect from her latest one The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. But I liked it. I liked it a lot. I am close to simply loving it, but it was not quite a 5-star read. But definitely 4½. So why not 5 stars? Mainly because I had envisioned another ending. I realize that this is not the author's "fault" (writing another ending than what I had expected), but the last few pages did feel slightly thin after I had devoured the whole book, not wanting to let it go, just having to know what was on the next page and the next page again.

The book takes place in Florida, where Laurel, a quilt-maker, lives a somewhat sheltered life in a sheltered neighborhood with her husband and daughter. Her husband is a computer geek, almost autistic, her sister is a flamboyant actress married to a gay man and her mother is a Southern woman who has tried hard all her life to rise above the squalid conditions she grew up in in DeLop, Florida, which must be one of the most depressing places I have ever come across in literature. All has an impact on Laurel's life for better or for worse, a life which shatters when her daughter's best friend is found drowned in Laurel's swimmingpool. Laurel is forced to face memories of the past, her present life, her marriage, her family and her DeLop heritage, which is something she has avoided since she was a little girl.

The book is about The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, but it is also a book about a young woman in her thirties trying to face life. Sounds simple, and in a way it also is. But as Laurel realizes that that is exactly what she has to do, things begin to fall apart rapidly, and beneath the quiet surface lies evil, decomposing and stinking memories, ghosts, repressed feelings and life at the utmost bottom of society.
Sounds like an awful read? It wasn't. Not at all. I highly recommend this book, and I am now looking forward to Jackson's next Southern Gothic!

This book is read as part of the Southern Reading Challenge 2009


Lisa said...

I recently won this one in a giveaway, but a friend saw it and snatched it up. I loved gods in Alabama, so I have high hopes for this one. Do you read her blog? It is excellent as well. I don't have a link but it's called "Faster Than Kudzu".

Scrap girl said...

I have this one and Gods in Alabama to read. Glad to hear you liked it.

Beth F said...

So glad that this one was better than Between, Georgia. I loved Gods in Alabama. Now I'll make sure I get to this one soon. Nice review! (and welcome back!)

Anonymous said...

I love gods in alabama, but I still can't decide whether or not to read this one. Maybe someday...

Thanks for the review!