The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

3.8 124
by Joshilyn Jackson, Author
     
 

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Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother make sure the literal family skeleton stays in the closet or turning scraps of fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister Thalia, an impoverished Actress with a capital A, is her polar opposite, priding herself on exposing the lurid truth lurking behind middle… See more details below

Overview

Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother make sure the literal family skeleton stays in the closet or turning scraps of fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister Thalia, an impoverished Actress with a capital A, is her polar opposite, priding herself on exposing the lurid truth lurking behind middle class niceties. While Laurel's life seems neatly on track--a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in suburban Victorianna--everything she holds dear is suddenly thrown into question the night she is visited by the ghost of a her 13-year old neighbor Molly Dufresne. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is inexplicable--an unseemly mystery Laurel knows no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Only her wayward, unpredictable sister is right for the task, but calling in a favor from Thalia is like walking straight into a frying pan protected only by Crisco. Enlisting Thalia's help, Laurel sets out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about her family's guarded past, the true state of her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

Richer and more rewarding than any story Joshilyn Jackson has yet written, yet still packed with Jackson's trademarked outrageous characters, sparkling dialogue, and defiantly twisting plotting, THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING is destined both to delight Jackson's loyal fans and capture a whole new audience.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Laurel, the center of Jackson's emotionally taut third novel, has a seemingly picture-perfect life, but when her daughter's best friend accidentally drowns in their pool and appears to Laurel in spirit form, things unravel quickly. Jackson's honey-sweet tones heat up into panic and confusion as everything Laurel depends on falls away. While set in the languid deep South, the pace is rapid. Jackson's reading keeps things brisk without going too swiftly. Jackson's excellent reading allows characters' voices to reveal much about their histories and personalities: Laurel's gentle but determined manner, her outrageously funny sister's sarcasm, the thick drawl of an impoverished girl visiting from Alabama. A brief interview with Jackson at the end offers some insight into the book's genesis and development and into her writing habits. Simultaneous release with the Grand Central hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 29). (Mar.)

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Library Journal

On the heels of the successful Gods in Alabamaand Between, Georgia-both #1 BookSense picks-Jackson again reinvents the (Girls Raised in the South) novel. Quilt artist Laurel, her game programmer husband, David, and their 13-year-old daughter, Shelby, lead a seemingly charmed life in a serene Florida suburb. But when the ghost of a drowned girl awakens Laurel, the veneer of that life seems ready to crack beyond repair. Can Laurel trust her flamboyant, outspoken sister, Thalia, to help as old family secrets emerge with dizzying speed? With the appearance of a ghost on the first page, you'll feel compelled to race to the end, but slow down for Jackson's great descriptions-you'll be rewarded for the effort. Jackson illuminates not just the complexities of family love as a source of safety and support but also the complexities of danger and death. The life-affirming epilog provides satisfying closure; libraries will want to own all three novels. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/07.]
—Rebecca Kelm

Kirkus Reviews
Ghosts, more figurative that literal, haunt Jackson's third novel (Between, Georgia, 2006, etc.). Laurel, who makes artistic quilts, and her computer geek husband, David, live with their 13-year-old daughter Shelby in Victorianna, a gated community in South Georgia near the Alabama line. One night, Laurel sees/dreams about the ghost of Shelby's best friend Molly, who is dripping wet. Laurel watches as Molly passes through her bedroom window and sinks to the bottom of Laurel's swimming pool. Laurel wakes screaming. In fact, Molly has drowned in what the police rule an accident. But Laurel has suspicions about a creepy neighbor. She is also terrified Shelby is somehow involved although Shelby swears she was asleep, as was her cousin Bet. Bet has been visiting for the summer, Laurel's pet charity case from the trailer-trash town that Laurel's mother escaped through marriage years ago. Using Bet's pathetic need for affection, Laurel pulls worrisome information from her and begins to track the truth about Molly's death. Lovably Aspergish David can't help, and Laurel's mother pretends never to see ugly truths, so Laurel, who has her own difficulty disturbing decorum, turns to her older sister Thalia, an actress who likes to live on the edge and has always found both Laurel's life in Victorianna and her marriage stultifying. With Thalia around, cracks begin to appear on the surface of Laurel's ever-so-controlled life. Thalia forces Laurel to confront problems in her marriage and to realize that the death of her Uncle Marty, her first "ghost," was not what it seemed. Laurel is meant to be the heroine but she's such a dolt, readers may not feel she deserves her happy ending after jumping toconclusions that turn out dangerously wrong. The tragic figure, Bet, gets short shrift, as if Jackson doesn't quite know what to do with her. An entertaining but shallow spin on a Southern Gothic.
From the Publisher
"...a great tale [that] builds to an exciting and violent ending, one that surprises and yet seems to fit."
-USA Today"

... buoyant and moving ....beautifully balanced between magical and realist fiction... closer in tone and voice to Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones' or Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy."
-Atlanta Journal Constitution"

A ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one. Jackson's latest is a wild, smartly calibrated achievement. A-."
-Entertainment Weekly"

Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances."
-Publisher's Weekly"

Joshilyn Jackson has done it again... her skillful unraveling of family secrets and betrayal left me breathless. You must read this book!"
-Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594839221
Publisher:
Hachette Audio
Publication date:
03/04/2008
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
9
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 5.75(h) x 1.50(d)

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