Book Review: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

November 30, 2012 audiobook, book review, Hachette audio, joshilyn jackson, library, southern lit 3

Written and Narrated by:  Joshilyn Jackson

Published by:  Hachette Audio/Grand Central Publishing 2008

Length: 9 discs/ 9 hours 24 minutes/ 311 pages

Source: Borrowed from Library

Laurel has always been able to see ghosts, but she is surprised one night when she see’s her daughter Shelby’s friend Molly  in her in bedroom one night………and then as she looks out her window…..she realizes that Molly is in the bottom of their pool…not moving.  Rushing to the pool, also taking a minute to look in Shelby’s room..empty.  Screaming and raising quite a ruckus, Laurel’s husband David joins her.  Shelby and a sad faced, rather backward girl staying with them, Bett Clements are surprised to see Molly lifeless on the ground.  What happened? Why was this young girl in their back yard, how did she get into the pool…so many questions. 

Laurel has a long road to getting all the answers.  She immediately wants to call in her sister Thalia for help and support.  Thalia an actress with an interesting marriage to a gay man, she works in a unique theater, owned by herself and said husband.  Laurel’s husband David is less than thrilled with this prospect and calls in her mother, her mother who loves to sugar coat and pretty up everything that is ugly and glaring…like her own upbringing.  Laurel’s mother is from Dulop, Alabama…home to nothing good.  Poverty, drug and alcohol abuse run rampant in this small town.  If anyone makes it out of Dulop they don’t go back, well unless you are Laurel’s mother, with the pretense of helping the poor folks of Dulop.  Bett Clements has been Laurel’s pet project for years, taking her small gifts, and now bringing the girl out of the poverty and into her own home a few times a year.  Is she doing it more for Bett, or to show Shelby to be compassionate and giving or for herself?  

Laurel finds a way…to bring Thalia in, to share her suspicions as to how Molly wound up in the pool, and so much more.  What she finds is that her Stepford like development of Victorianna, just outside of Pensacola FL is much less pure and innocent than she ever knew.  Laurel discovers so much more about herself, her need to please and her need to help.  Laurel learns it all……….but does she lose Shelby and her innocence in the shuffle?  You really need to read this one to find out.

It’s no news that Joshilyn Jackson is my girl crush of Southern Fiction.  No one can write a better tale of dysfunctional families and make it seem like your own relatives than she.  The fact that the woman narrates her own books is just the icing on the cake.  I can hear her voice each time I think recall Laurel, and Thalia, and Bett Clements and everyone from this book.  She has inflections and accents that create each individual character and gives them life.  When I’m listening to her books, I’m not always happy that I’m progressing, I’m a little sad that the end will occur and I’ll be done listening to her tell me a story.  I want to whisk her away with me to a front porch with rocking chairs, we could bring along sweet tea for sipping and Joshilyn could tell me stories all day long.  Tales of Uncle Poot’s leg, and nasty old uncles who are perverts and leering at the little girls.  She could tell me of the neighbors who have immaculate lawns and homes, but  inside are cheating, drinking, and lord knows what else. 

I’ve given this book a 4 out 5 stars.  It kept me interested the entire audio, and I certainly had no idea how Molly ended up in the bottom of the pool, and I didn’t know how the ghosts were going to bring such realization to Laurel’s world, but eventually most questions were answered…and the journey was oh so sweet.  Highly recommend. 

3 Responses to “Book Review: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming”

  1. Anita

    Your description reminded me of when I listened to The Secret Life of Bees. I loooved the person who read the book. Gave me the chills… a great book and a great actor combined.

    Joshilyn Jackson-I hope to remember her name in the event that I have time to read beyond my book club selection these days.

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