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The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn…

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Joshilyn Jackson

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998518,575 (3.44)62
Title:The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Authors:Joshilyn Jackson
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2008), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Southern, ghosts, poverty, sisters

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The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson (2008)



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The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is Joshilyn Jackson's third novel. For some reason, after her first two novels, which I enjoyed immensely, and as a loyal reader of her blog I never read TGWSS. Shame on me. I do believe it may very well be may favorite of her four novels to date. It also feels very different from her other three novels.

The ghost of a drowned girl, Molly, awakens Laurel right at the beginning of the story, and leads Laurel to the dead body, floating in the pool. This starts the action, both physically and psychologically. And there are secrets - some old, some new, some are calling out, some hiding, but all of them want to be revealed. As the layers of the story are peeled back, hidden truths are revealed.

Joshilyn Jackson herself said that, "At its heart, this is a book about poverty." Poverty both materially and emotionally. It's also about repression and denial. She does an excellent job handling the complexities of families and marriage.

Although the mystery of the drowned girl is solved, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is not just a mystery novel. It is a family drama, including sisters clashing, family discord, and marriage questions, that also has several mysteries that need to be solved and secrets that need to be revealed.

Jackson is a fine, accomplished wordsmith and creates totally believable, complex characters. Using the Watership Downs character Cowslip as a verb, cowslipping, was brilliant. Her descriptions are always memorable. But most of all, she knows how to tell a story and make us care about what happens to her characters.
Very Highly Recommended; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
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  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Not as good as her other two books, but still the most engaging thing I've read in a long time. Her characters are so well developed, the relationships between them are complex, the plot is believable- only this time, the plot twist was a little less compelling than before. I literally couldn't put the book down. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
Not very tightly written, but an engaging book. I was often a bit confused by what the main character was seeing. The Uncle Marty story was ambiguous to me until the end, but perhaps it was meant to be. The relationship with the mother was odd, but I was never clear why, and the "ownership" of dad between the mother and Marty was not adequately described or fleshed out. Laurel's anger at her mother seemed sudden and perhaps a bit overblown. Overall, however, it was entertaining despite the writing. It read like a first book from the author. I will read another, simply out of curiosity of the maturing of Jackson's writing style. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
When Laurel discovers the body of her daughter's best friend floating in her swimming pool, she knows that her carefully ordered life is about to be shattered. In order to find out the truth about what happened to the girl, Laurel knows that she needs someone that will come and force the truth out of people. She needs her sister, but having her there may also pull a part the family. Laurel must confront old family secrets in order to protect her daughter and find herself. I was really sucked into this book. I loved all the characters - they were real and flawed and for the most part Jackson avoided the obvious path for them. Although the action centers around the mystery of what happened to the girl in the pool, the real story is the relationships between Laurel's family members and the consequences of burying secrets. I will definitely read more by Ms. Jackson. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 17, 2016 |
Audio book read by the author

Laurel sees dead people; so when a transparent young girl, apparently soaking wet, appears at the foot of her bed, she lets the ghost lead her to the window. She’s been sleepwalking again, but when she awakens, Laurel sees that there is a girl floating in her backyard pool.

This is a modern-day Southern Gothic novel. Jackson is a talented writer and fills her novels with wonderfully eccentric characters, as well as family secrets, dark undercurrents of poverty, alcohol and drug use, domestic violence, and illicit sex. As is usual in her books, there are competing motives at work. Characters behave in an apparently bad way for good reasons, or in an apparently good way for bad reasons. This keeps the reader guessing as to what is really going on, building suspense and holding the reader’s interest. Just as it happens in real-life sibling relationships, there were times when I felt sympathetic towards a particular character, and other times when I wanted to smack him/her. I was surprised by the way things turned out; though I did think it was a little too convenient an ending.

Jackson has some theatrical training and does a wonderful job of reading her work. Her facility with accents gives life to the many characters and makes it easy to tell who is speaking when listening to the audio.
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  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
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Until the drowned girl came to Laurel's bedroom, ghosts had never walked in Victorianna.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446697826, Paperback)

Lauren Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother keep family skeletons in the closet or sewing her acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister, Thalia, is her opposite, an impoverished actress who prides herself on exposing the lurid truths lurking behind middle class niceties.

While Laurel's life seems neatly on track-- a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, a lovely suburban home-- everything she holds dear is threatened the night she is visited by the ghost of her 13-year-old neighbor Molly. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly, floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is an unseemly mystery that no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Laurel enlists Thalia's help, even though she knows it comes with a high price tag.

Together, they set out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about their family's haunted past, the true state of Laurel's marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:28 -0400)

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Laurel Gray Hawthorne's life seems neatly on track--a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in suburban Victorianna--until everything she holds dear is suddenly thrown into question the night she is visited by the ghost of a her 13-year old neighbor Molly Dufresne.… (more)

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