4 out 5 Helpings of “Poutine” to LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry

Posted Mar 21 2013, 8:00 am in ,

When one of my Book Hungry members finished this debut novel by Sara J. Henry before I did, she assured me the story is not what I think it is. She was right.

The story opens with main character Troy Chance leaping off a ferry to swim across a lake to save what she thinks may have been a child tossed off another ferry like a bag of garbage. This is probably the most compelling opening scene I’ve ever read. Troy was right; it was a child and the fact that his arms were tied inside an adult sweatshirt proves that he was thrown overboard and hadn’t merely fallen. The mommy in me suffered some serious heart pangs over this. Troy manages to save them both and once on dry land, is appalled to learn no one has missed this child. There are  no reports, no frantic parents, not even a concerned ferry worker.

I liked Troy’s character very much. She’s not the ‘perfect woman’ – she’s not even a strong swimmer, but didn’t hesitate to save little Paul. Loved that in a world where people do unspeakable harm to children, Troy immediately bonds with Paul, literally risking her life to save his. After they’re dry, Troy decides to keep Paul – not an unreasonable action, given the curious lack of interest she’s found. Troy’s life, until now, has been average across the board. She’s got an average relationship, average family, average looks, average job. But saving Paul has changed her – elevated her – maybe even opened her eyes a bit that all this ‘average-ness’ is no longer enough. She decides to do whatever it takes to protect Paul, to keep him alive.

The middle of the story wasn’t quite as compelling for me. Troy’s determination to track down Paul’s kidnappers leads her to make some questionable decisions that not only put Paul in more danger, they put her on the suspect list, but this is all minor stuff and doesn’t ruin the book. There was a twist I didn’t expect and some little sparks of romance that didn’t take over the main plot. I liked Troy very much and look forward to reading book 2.

Oh, what’s poutine, you ask? If you’re not from Canada, you’ll have to read the book to find out! One of my favorite parts of the story is the ways Troy interacts with the various men in her life, especially her brother. There’s a lot of subtle layering in this story

See what my Book Hungry sisters have to say about LEARNING TO SWIM. 



5 responses to “4 out 5 Helpings of “Poutine” to LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry”

  1. Linda Grimes says:

    This one has really piqued my interest. What I really need now is more time to read!

  2. Patty Blount says:

    Oh, Linda, I hear that! My reading time lately is constrained to my time on the elliptical machine or just before bed. All other time is devoted to writing.

  3. abby says:

    patty — a great review. i love how different and yet similar all our reviews are. and i continue to be completely charmed by the ratings you give. i admit, it’s one of my favorite parts of this group (other than our calls, of course) — finding out what object you’ll use during your rating of the book. ;)

  4. I love your rating system, too, Patty. After each of our calls, I always wonder how you’re going to rate the book. I can’t say I hated this book, but I can’t say I loved it either. It fell somewhere in the disappointed middle. I wanted to love it. I wanted to rave. and if it would’ve had a bit more umph, I might have. It’s just an eh kind of read for me. Will I read the second book? I don’t know yet. I might, but there are just soooo many more on the top of my TBR list at the moment.

    PS…my night vision goggles were a gift from my older brother. he got them from the army surplus store, which coincidentally is the best place to find spy-esque equipment…er…or so i heard ;)

  5. I agree with Abby, I always wonder what you will use from the book to rate the review with. Maybe we should turn this into s game?

    And Poutine? It might be worth a trip to Canada just to try this, eh?

    Oh, and Karla will definitely read the second book. She suffered through three of the shades books so I know she won’t be able to help herself. And if she wants to do it on the down low she can always sit outside wearing her night vision goggles while she does it.