Monday, December 24, 2007

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

Grand Central Publishing, March 2008

I am exhausted and the reason is simple...I stayed up all night unable to put down Joshilyn Jackson's forthcoming book, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

Laurel is a mother and wife who lives in a beautiful home in a gated Florida community with her husband, David and daughter, Shelby. Her present is altogether different than her past: one that includes the Southern town of DeLop, a poverty, drug stricken town where her relatives still reside. One evening, Laurel awakes to find a ghostly female figure hovering above her (Laurel has a history of seeing ghosts) and follows the figure down to the pool where she is startled to find the dead body of Molly, Shelby's friend. This discovery propels Laurel to reach out to her estranged, bohemian sister, Thalia, a young woman who lives for drama and chaos. Together Laurel and Thalia will face the past they have tried so hard to run from while solving the mystery of the present.

In Jackson's adept hands, the character of Laurel is rich and complex: refusing to see the truth behind family secrets and the reality of her own life, Laurel is foibled and true. Thalia has such depth and strength that one can actually visualize her, right down to her bizarre clothing choices and marriage to a gay man. The nature of family and the fear of disclosure runs under the entire book - who are we? Are we simply a compendium of all of those who have come before or can we ever really wash away our history? As the book comes to its spectacular finish (one that couldn't be seen), the reader can only wish that Jackson will hurry up and finish her next book. This is one of the best books to come across our office desk in quite awhile.

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