LEARNING TO SWIM by Ann Turner
ONCE UPON A TIME AND LATER IN LIFE
Little girl lost — plot:
“Sailing,” “Sinking,” “Swimming.”
Hurting. Healing. Hope.
YA / adult (ages 16 and up)
First person POV
Verse novel / memoir / mystery
Slice of summer / slice of life
Themes – abuse at hands of neighbor boy, threatened, frightened, silences
Secrets, lies, confusion
Horror, regret, despair, emptiness
Symbolism — water, learning how to swim
Learning to swim progress parallels emotional growth from scared, abused, silence girl into silenced but increasingly brave adolescent…two strokes forward, one stroke back
Darkening emotions, darkening images moving into middle of story
Word choices show loss of innocence
Verses of pain and agony, of secrets and burning terror followed by verses punctured with pins and needles of relief.
Epilogue style ending — nothing left to the imagination — verses for hope and healing show main character growing emotionally stronger, reuniting with family, learning to talk again, learning to swim, learning to love
Final notes of hope — overdone? Perhaps, but comforting all the same.