Amy Bright’s novel Swimmers is surprisingly light considering the heavy subject matter. Suicide, drug addiction, and bullying all play pivotal roles in the plot.
What makes the book shine is the friendship between Hunter and Poppy. Misfits who have been pulled out of their troubled lives, the teen and young girl have a companionship that is complex despite how little they actually speak to one another. He has a grudging respect for the girl, not wanting to admit at first that he needs a kid’s friendship.
Where the novel is struggles is the”voice. It didn’t sound like a teenage boy’s perspective, especially not a drug using, rough, trouble maker. He also didn’t feel depressed, certainly not enough to commit suicide. His point of view was too jovial for that, his observations too comical, his awareness of himself too strong. The parts when he was recovered were more believable than when he was on drugs or depressed. Usually first person narration allows the reader to experience the story, but Bright may have been better off writing in third person since she failed to capture the inner turmoil.
Part of the story takes place close to my home. At first I was excited to hear the names of familiar places, however the description of Kelowna did not match where I know the Greyhound station to be.
A sound plot, and interesting characters, but dark subject matter needs to delve deeper into the gritty feelings to have full impact.