Tag Archives: In Her Shoes

Arc of a Diver

girl-who-stopped-swimming

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming: A Novel by Joshilyn Jackson (Grand Central Publishing, $13.99, 336 pages)

“Her good life was a thing made up…  almost by accident…  If she’d left pieces out, then she’d done it for her family.   She’d only been buttoning shut the ugly parts.   The things she’d buried were better left that way.”

If you like Jennifer Weiner (Best Friends Forever, In Her Shoes) you’re bound to love this popular fiction novel from Joshilyn Jackson (Girls in Alabama; Between, Georgia).   Like Weiner, Jackson has a great, charming, story teller’s voice that you underestimate before realizing how skillfully she moves things along.   In The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Jackson moves swiftly between comedy and drama, happiness and sorrow, confusion and clarity.   And like Weiner, she populates this novel with great characters of the South – intelligent and naive, wacky and brilliant.

The story’s main character, Laurel Gray Hawthorne, lives in the beautiful and exclusive – and clean and quiet – suburb of Victorianna.   Then one night she wakes up to see her daughter’s best friend Molly, appearing to her as a ghost.   Molly’s dead body is subsequently found in Laurel’s backyard swimming pool.

The local police initially write off the suspicious death as an accident, but Laurel is determined to solve the crime with the aid of her very frank and abrasive sister, Thalia.   It’s not clear whether Laurel is trying to solve the criminal mystery to appease Molly’s ghost, to protect her daughter Shelby, or to resolve matters with the family ghosts she observed as a child.   But once Laurel opens the door on the events of the fateful night, everything in her life comes into play…

Does she really know who she is?   Does her husband love her?   Does she know her own daughter?   The neighbors?   Is her community safe?  

Further details will be left to prospective readers.   This is, without a doubt, a fascinating read.   “Left me breathless…  You must read this book!”   – Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants.   Agreed.   I will now be looking for a copy of Gods in Alabama.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

the girl who“She’d tried to create an airtight home that ghosts could not enter, but they’d come in anyway, through the secret spaces, through the blanks she’d left in all the things she left unsaid…”

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Coming Up Next…

the girl who (sm.)A review of the novel The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson.

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Best Friends Forever: A Novel

Best Friends Forever 4 (audio)Jennifer Weiner is not your typical writer of popular fiction.   Her slow and dry style causes one to under-estimate her before she starts effortlessly shifting through the gears like an F1 (Formula One) driver.   The more you read, the more fun and humor she adds to the telling, making the second half of Best Friends Forever seem much shorter than the first half.

The reader also has fun because we realize that we know these people in real life…   The fun-loving and popular Val, the down-on-herself Addie (whom others trust and believe in more than she believes in herself), the punkish and mean Dan Swansea, responsible Jordan Novick…   All are as real as the people we went to high school or college with.

I didn’t think I’d say about this about 100 pages into Best Friends Forever, but I can say it now.   Count me in as a member of Jennifer Weiner’s fan club!

Thanks to Atria Books for the review copy.

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Best Friends Forever

This one was quite a surprise…   It started off painfully and ended up as a joy ride!

As the story starts a young woman, Valerie, attends her class of ’92 high school re-union and seeks revenge for something that happened to her in the Fall of 1991.   She gets her revenge – in a violent and disturbing way – then heads out to find her former (much less popular in high school) friend Addie Downs.

For the first quarter of this 359-page story I did not think that I’d be able to finish it.   The content was a bit disturbing and the characters were not likeable.   Then, at some point, we began to focus on the uniquely wacky My Fox Chicago News Team weather girl Valerie Adler.   That’s when the real fun begins.   We also get to know and identify with the true main character Addie Downs, a woman who at one time was easily two or three times her current weight.Best Friends Forever 5

The two friends, knowing that Val is a likely crime suspect, take off together from the small town of Pleasant Ridge, Illinois south toward Key Largo, Florida.   At some point, it dawns on the reader that they’re on a journey for the things they need in life.   Val needs respect (“You know what the average age of a My Fox viewer is?   Dead.”) and Addie needs the male life-partner that she’s never found.

Add to the mix a young and broken-hearted police chief (Jordan Novick) who sets out to find the women on their run from the law, and several former misfits from the old high school – some of whom may be seeking forgiveness and redemption.   It all adds up to a recipe for a rollicking good ride down the highway of life.

To be continued… (part one of two parts)

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