Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: Night Swim by Jessica Keener

Night Swim

Title: Night Swim
Author: Jessica Keener
Published: 2012
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Sarah Kunitz lives in a posh, suburban world of 1970 Boston. From the outside, her parents’ lifestyle appears enviable – a world defined by cocktail parties, expensive cars, and live-in maids to care for their children – but inside their five-bedroom house, all is not well for the Kunitz family. Coming home from school, Sarah finds her well-dressed, pill-popping mother lying disheveled on their living room couch. At night, to escape their parents’ arguments, Sarah and her oldest brother, Peter, find solace in music, while her two younger brothers retreat to their rooms and imaginary lives. Any vestige of decorum and stability drains away when their mother dies in a car crash one terrible winter day. Soon after, their father, a self-absorbed, bombastic professor begins an affair with a younger colleague. Sarah, aggrieved, dives into two summer romances that lead to unforeseen consequences. In a story that will make you laugh and cry, Night Swim shows how a family, bound by heartache, learns to love again.

My review:

This book started off really slow for me. It took me a while to really dig into the book and feel the flow of Keener’s writing. It felt very disconnected at the start and I didn’t feel like I understood who Sarah was.

But then Sarah’s mother died. And then the story really picked up. This is when the dysfunctional family fell apart. When Sarah started making some really bad decisions that I didn’t quite agree with. When her big brother left home to pursue a music career, when her father began dating someone much younger than him, and when Sarah begins to experience with life itself. I felt that this was the moment I could finally feel her character and who she was.

This wasn’t a fluffy, silly novel. Keener hit readers hard with issues of sex, drugs, and death and how all three affects you, no matter your age. It’s about a girl who has had her entire world turned upside down and is scrambling to figure out where she fits in the mess that remains. The cover of the book itself was stunning and the writing began to tug at my soul as I became more entrenched in Sarah’s life and the decisions she was making.

Ultimately, it was a book with hard themes that were a little difficult to read about at times but a book with raw and honest writing. While it had a clean, albeit predictable ending, it also felt very honest and I ended the book with a tiny smile on my face, knowing Sarah and the Kunitz family were going to be all right.

And the author has also generously agreed to give away one copy of the book to one of my readers! Leave a comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway ends Wednesday, February 1 at midnight and I’ll announce the winner on Thursday.

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are my own.

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