4.3 40
by Jessica Warman

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At boarding school, Katie tries to focus on swimming and becoming popular instead of the painful memories of her institutionalized schizophrenic older brother. See more details below


At boarding school, Katie tries to focus on swimming and becoming popular instead of the painful memories of her institutionalized schizophrenic older brother.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
Katie Kittrell loves to swim. It is the only thing she likes to do. In the water she feels free from the pressures of distant parents, school cliques, and a schizophrenic brother. When her parents send her to boarding school, she lies about her brother then spends the next three years trying to fit in with the popular group and hoping that no one finds out. The only person who knows her secret is her roommate Mazzie, a girl with her own set of demons. When Katie's brother commits a horrible act, her secret comes out shocking everyone, including her ultra religious boyfriend. There are parts to this book that are beautifully written. The scenes between Katie and her brother and Katie and her roommate are intimate and so real that if feels like eavesdropping. Other parts of the book, however, read like a typical teenage novel: flat and predictable. Katie's boyfriend is an example of this. With scenes of drugs, sex and violence commonplace, this book is high school and up only. In parts wonderful and in parts typical, this novel is a mixed bag. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Katie, 15, is most herself when she is in the water, swimming faster and better all the time. Things were so much simpler when the Kitrells were poor—her family seemed closer. Now that they are financially comfortable, their relationships have deteriorated. Katie's parents become more and more wrapped up in one another, and Katie feels excluded. She is still close to her older brother, Will, who is schizophrenic, and when his behavior becomes more erratic and extreme, she becomes concerned and frightened. Their father, now successful in his psychiatric practice, seems unable to maintain any warm relationships with his children, and sends Katie away to boarding school. There she is accepted by the most popular girls and attracts the attention of gorgeous Drew, captain of the swim team. Katie is also intrigued by her strangely withdrawn roommate and works on building her trust. Eventually, too much drinking, smoking, and worrying about her family take their toll on her swimming performance. When her brother's illness spirals out of control again, Katie faces serious personal losses and challenges that have no simple solutions. Warman treats Will's schizophrenia with stark honesty as seen through his sister's eyes. Similar to Jessica Lee Anderson's Border Crossing (Milkweed, 2009), this novel provides an important look at an extremely difficult illness and its effects on a family.—Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Kirkus Reviews
Katie Kitrell, ambivalent toward her ever-absent psychiatrist father and alcoholic, artist mother, has a fierce bond with her older brother, Will, even after a drug-induced schizophrenia takes over his personality. When his escalating violence threatens the family, their parents whisk competitive swimmer Katie from their small, blue-collar Pennsylvania town (which she blames for Will's downfall) to a boarding school. Although she finds instant popularity and intellectual stimulation, the setting only leads to new problems: how to pretend her brother is dead; a hypocritical, fundamentalist boyfriend; backstabbing cliques; a roommate with family secrets of her own; questioning her own sexuality and worth. The only place Katie can breathe easily in this debut, semi-autobiographical novel is the swimming pool. As she defines her friendships and her love-hate relationships with Will and herself, she begins to feel more at ease on land, too. Warman draws out Katie's emotions and her complex life and family with immediacy. Readers who dive in will surface with more awareness of the devastating effects of mental illness. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.13(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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