"If I'd blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn't, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water."
When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore towing a tiny passenger. Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He'll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he's resolutely mute.
Troy assumes that Paul's frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul as she is to find out what happened to him. She'll need skill and courage to survive and protect her charge and herself.
Sara J. Henry's powerful and compelling Learning to Swim will move and disturb listeners right up to its shattering conclusion.
©2011 Sara J. Henry (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Sara J. Henry opens her first novel like a pro.... the throbbing heart of the story is right out of Jane Eyre." (The New York Times Book Review)
"In her debut, the first in a projected series, Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: An athletic, fiercely independent young woman who, like crime-fiction author Gillian Flynn’s feisty females, is capable of making delightfully acerbic observations." (Booklist)
"A compelling plot, a pervading sense of foreboding, well-constructed characters." (Kirkus Reviews)
Sara Henry had a great idea, with a memorable opening line. But she didn't have any additional good ideas after that, and the ideas she did have strain credulity way beyond an author's creative prerogative to make a story flow. If at every turn of the plot the reader thinks, "Pfffft, no one would ever make that choice, no one would ever do that, no one would ever react that way," then it's not well-plotted. It's a non-story, with minimal action, and a somewhat "out of nowhere" culprit at the end. More needed to happen to make this a decent story. Many attempts at character development in this book seem more like building a word count than crafting a memorable protagonist.
As a first time author, she probably is a pretty good writer, and I did listen all the way to the end, rather than give up on it. I wanted to know the outcome, even if I had to listen to the retelling of so much mundane activity.
Suzanne Toren gives a good performance, but her voice seemed to me to be a little too old and experienced to be right for this character.
Loved the first two chapters. What woman wouldn't? You dive off a ferry on the off chance you saw a child thrown into the water from the ferry passing you, and you save that child's life, even though you're no great shakes as a swimmer, less impressive as a diver and you still have to make it to shore. After that, the story sinks into deep snore territory. This writer blew a great lead and set up. Saving the kid was fab. Next time out, save the story too.
I agree with other reviewers that the story started out strong and then went downhill, but it still kept me engaged. I expect the series will get stronger as it goes along. I did not like Suzanne Toren as the narrator - her voice for Troy was tolerable, but for the other female characters is was downright jarring. I'm glad she's not reading the next one.
This is one of the best and most exciting books I have read or listened to for a while. The story is completely gripping and original and I couldn't put it down. It's very well written and the narration is excellent. Apparently this is Sara J Henry's first novel and I hope she's going to write lots more.
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