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The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

>> Thursday, May 28, 2009

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 308
Support Your Local Library Challenge #23, The Southern Reading Challenge #1

I loved Joshilyn Jackson’s first two books, but for some reason this one hadn’t worked its way up to the top of my TBR list until I decided to include it for this year’s Southern Reading Challenge. Jackson is from Alabama and definitely has a talent for writing southern characters that can be outrageous and touch your heart at the same time.

While this book was an enjoyable read, it just didn’t grab me quite as much as her first two books did. Maybe it was because the setting was primarily in an affluent suburban area in Florida. While there were parts of the story that took place in smaller, less urban places that sang with the kind of uniqueness that I’m used to from Jackson, it just didn’t feel like the book took me to such a sense of ‘place’ as her others.

Laurel Hawthorne lives with her husband and daughter Shelby in an gated community in Florida. When Laurel is awakened one night by the ghost of a young girl, she discovers that girl’s body in her backyard swimming pool. With her world thrown into a tailspin, Laurel finds herself reaching out for stability and reassurance to her workaholic husband, her troubled daughter, and her headstrong and wild sister Thalia. Laurel tries to protect Shelby from the investigation just as she’s tried to protect both Shelby and her husband from her own past. Laurel’s family ties to a backwoods Alabama community of DeLop and a long held family secret are only parts of what is threatening the stability of Laurel’s world. Thalia seems to want to make Laurel face her troubles, but at the same time seems to be going about it all wrong.

There was a lot going on in this book. Two mysterious deaths, family issues between sisters as well as mothers and daughters and spouses. Although the focus of the story was on Laurel and her sister Thalia, there were so many other elements that it ended up feeling a bit unfocused to me. All in all, I liked it, but I’d recommend “gods in Alabama” and “Between, Georgia” before this one.


Mary 5/28/2009 5:21 AM  

I agree with your thoughts. I loved gods in Alabama. I did like the "mystery" aspect of this book. And I don't read many mysteries. Nice review. I'm adding Between, Georgia to the TBR list.

SmallWorld at Home 5/30/2009 5:36 AM  

I've heard similar things about this book. Loved the other two, though!

gautami tripathy 5/30/2009 6:14 PM  

I ought to check it out. I have seen so much of it the book blogging world. Thanks for the review.

SRC3:A Streetcar Named Desire

Amy 6/07/2009 8:38 PM  

I really loved this one, because it was incredibly thought provoking for me.

SuziQoregon 6/08/2009 7:12 AM  

Mary: it wasn't so much that I didn't like this one, because I did. I think I just liked the first two so much better.

SmallWorld: I'm still looking forward to her next one whenever it comes out. I think she's a very talented author.

Guatami Tripathy: Hope you enjoy it.

Amy: Have you read her others? Glad you liked this one.

Nicole 6/09/2009 3:14 PM  

I just got this book a couple of weeks ago and I am intrigued by you thoughts. I have never read any of her books before, so maybe this is a good place to start. If I like this one I will likely love the others.

Yolanda 6/10/2009 3:13 PM  

I like her first one better than this one . If you like authors from the south you should read something by Mary Alice Monroe or Patti Callahan Henry both excellent writers.

SuziQoregon 6/11/2009 2:20 PM  

Nicole: It might be a very good place to start. If you like this one, I think you'll like her others even more.

Yolanda: Thanks for the recommendations. I do tend to like books by Southern authors.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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