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Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
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Learning to Swim

by Sara J. Henry

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I can't tell you why, because I am really not sure, but I could not put this book down. Initially, I wasn't sure I was going to finish it, but I thought, no, I will give it a couple more pages and the next thing I knew, I was completely wrapped up in the story. I had to know what happened and how it was going to turn out. Some characters (Philippe and Jamesson espcially) were not fleshed out quite enough for me, but Troy Chance is a helluva main character.

Troy Chance things that she sees a person fall off a passing ferry in icy weather. Without a thought, she jumps in to the rescue and discovers and small boy with a sweater tied in knots around him. Who would want to murder a small child? ( )
  bookwormteri | Jan 14, 2014 |
A very enjoyable read with a nice twist at the end. Will definitely look at the next one. ( )
  MichaelKelberer | Aug 21, 2013 |
Writers of mystery and detective fiction must pull their readers in from the first word, then artfully and patiently seduce us into caring about the characters and (most of all) caring what happens next. Sara J. Henry's debut novel Learning to Swim mostly succeeds, but it also asks its reader to indulge a variety of weaknesses, the most glaring of which are some careless writing and plot contrivances that are not always plausible and/or convincing. Troy Chance is a physically fit young woman who makes an independent living as a freelance writer in Lake Placid, New York. While traveling on the Lake Champlain ferry from Burlington, Vermont to Port Kent, New York she is watching another ferry pass by in the opposite direction when she sees something drop from the other ferry's deck into the water that she suspects is a child. Making a split-second life-defining decision, she dives into the water, pulls the child to the surface, and swims to shore. No one witnesses the rescue, and Troy's adventure begins: with a child who apparently speaks only French and for whom no one seems to be looking. The ensuing tale involves kidnapping, ransom and murder, and in her pursuit of the perpetrators Troy proves resourceful and persistent, though also at times alarmingly naive. The narrative builds huge momentum in the first section, which, unfortunately, is frittered away in the second section before picking up again in the third. The narrative is first person from Troy's perspective, and her voice is breezy and casual, which seems appropriate given her abhorrence of any kind of formality, but which also means we are treated to a great deal of unnecessary and distracting detail. Troy herself is appealing, an independent-minded and adventurous woman in her early thirties who knows what she likes about herself, and is responsible and self-aware. Other readers have noted that the resolution of the mystery strains credibility. It may be an understatement to say it seems convenient. But by the time the solution is revealed, the reader cares so much about Troy that the climactic scene and aftermath are almost incidental. All that matters is that Troy survives to face her next adventure. Learning to Swim is something of a paradox, a book that fails on some levels and succeeds on others, but which, once you've started, must be read to the very end. ( )
  icolford | Jul 7, 2013 |
Troy Chance, a sports journalist, leaps from a ferry to rescue a boy who has been thrown from a passing ferry, then takes him home and decides to investigate who he is and how this happened on her own. The boy is french-speaking so she is able to deduce a Canadian connection. His father has relocated from Montreal to Ottawa and she seeks him out and forms a close bond with both. Not a terrific book, but Troy Chance is likeable and I really enjoyed the Ottawa landmarks. ( )
  CarterPJ | Apr 28, 2013 |
It's common with series fiction that the initial entries are not the strongest. But being a fan of series fiction, I'm willing to look beyond the aspects that don't work for me to the elements that do. So to start, I'll just say the plotting of this novel seemed a little thin for a mystery. Now I'll move on to what I liked.

I found the protagonist, Troy Chance, to be an extremely likable, complex, and well drawn character. She's affable and makes friends easily, but keeps a distance from people nonetheless. She never lets anyone get too close. She's practical, unfussy, athletic, and a bit of a tomboy. She's unconcerned with "girly" things. She remarks that she's not yet the person she wants to be, but I'll be reading the subsequent novels to see who she becomes.

It seems to me this book, and presumably the series to follow, although they take the form of "murder mysteries", are less concerned with plot and mayhem and more concerned with the phenomenon of human connection. ( )
  EricKibler | Apr 6, 2013 |
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Epigraph
"Swimming is a sport that is not natural to everyone."

--from a Learn to Swim blog
Dedication
To my dad, who taught me how to read, and made sure I always had plenty of books.
First words
If I'd blinked, I would have missed it.
Quotations
People don’t understand how completely children rely on the adults around them, how quickly they recognize that their survival depends on the person in control of them. And how vulnerable they are to whatever the kidnapper tells them.
We ate steaming oatmeal and French toast and sipped fresh-ground coffee, which was astoundingly better than the stuff I made with my paper-towel-drip method.
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Witnessing a small boy being thrown into the middle of Lake Champlain, Troy Chance rescues the child only to discover that he had been kidnapped and is at the center of a bizarre and violent plot.

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