In the summer, everything seemed like it was going well for Alex. He was in a relationship (a secret relationship, but still some kind of something) with Tommy, a star football player at their high school. His relationship with his best friend Jillian wasn't perfect, but it was nothing that he couldn't deal with. Then things started unraveling. Tommy broke up with him, and as awful as that was, it was only the beginning. New kid in town Robby might be a second chance at...something, but Robby has lots of baggage of his own. While dealing with homophobia, grief, parental relationships, scandal, suicide, teen pregnancy, and small town secrets, is it possible for these two to find a way toward happiness?
My one-word review for Swimming to Chicago would be "drama!" The characters must face difficult emotional situation after difficult emotional situation, all building to a violent conclusion that draws these plots together. I would have liked a chance to spend more time understanding how the characters were reacting to the drama; Jillian, in particular, was a character I felt I knew little about. Because I knew so little, I wondered about the way that she talked to other characters and I didn't always understand why Alex would want to be friends with her (or, at times, why she would want to be friends with Alex). The book is told in two different parts, with a jump of about six months in between. I couldn't shake the feeling that there was some kind of character development or relationship information that I missed out on experiencing. Having said that, though, there is (spoiler alert) a part where a character is brutally attacked because of who he is. The description of this attack is just heartbreaking, beautifully written, and strong reminder that high school is not a safe place for all students.
I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Bold Strokes Books.
Check out David-Matthew Barnes' website for more information.
Find it at IndieBound.
Read it with:
The Next Competitor by K.P. Kincaid
The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson
Mesmerized by David-Matthew Barnes