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