Learning to Swim

Learning to Swim

3.9 88
by Sara J. Henry

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Winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award

   When she sees what looks like a child tumbling from a ferry into frigid Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. When she gets the child to shore she discovers that his name is Paul, he speaks only French


Winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award

   When she sees what looks like a child tumbling from a ferry into frigid Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. When she gets the child to shore she discovers that his name is Paul, he speaks only French—and no one seems to be looking for him. 
   Her determination to protect Paul pulls Troy from her quiet life in a small Adirondack town into an unfamiliar world of wealth and privilege in Canada and then in Vermont. Her attachment to him—and the danger she faces when she tries to unravel the mystery of his abandonment—force her to evaluate everything she thought true about herself. 
   Sara J. Henry's riveting, award-winning debut will keep readers engrossed right up to its shattering conclusion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Freelance writer Troy Chance, the protagonist of Henry's impressive first novel, impulsively, and literally, dives into trouble when she sees a youngster fall from a ferry boat on Lake Champlain. Troy manages to rescue the boy, discovers that his fall was no accident, and after brief, anonymous reports to the police, embarks on an ill-conceived attempt to become the boy's protector. Bonding with the boy, she eventually learns his name, Paul Dumond; his age, six; and that he and his mother had been kidnapped and his mother later shot and killed. Troy locates Paul's Canadian father, Philippe, and reunites father and son, but she is unwilling to end her involvement. When the police can't find the kidnappers, Troy starts to probe more deeply into the lives of Philippe, his abducted wife, and Paul's captivity. Henry adroitly handles Troy's exposure to new emotions as she re-examines her life and relationships. An inconclusive ending may signal that Chance's journey is not yet over. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“A single woman dives headlong from a ferry into Lake Champlain to rescue a child, and then must figure out what to do with him. Compulsively readable, this is all about what we do for love.”  —Boston Globe

“From the grabber beginning to the heartfelt conclusion, Sara J. Henry's Learning to Swim is an auspicious debut ... Fresh setting, well-realized characters, cleanly written, with a mysterious and suspenseful story.” Daniel Woodrell, author of The Maid's Version

“Emotional, intense, and engrossing... The talented Sara J. Henry introduces a thoroughly modern heroine with an independent spirit and a tender heart.” Lisa Unger, author of In the Blood

“A terrific debut. This moving and insightful psychological thriller features the inspiring Troy Chancean everywoman hero who women will admire and men will want to meet. I can’t wait for her next adventure.”
Michael Robotham, author of Watching You
“Readers will root for Troy Chance from the dramatic opening of Learning to Swim right through to its surprising close. Move over, Kinsey Millhone.” Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Four Ms. Bradwells
“From its shocking opening to its stunning conclusion, Learning to Swim is a frightening ride. Sara J. Henry will quite literally take your breath away.”  J.T. Ellison, author of The Lost Key
“A thriller of the most thrilling kinda smart and crafty story with whiffs of Rebecca that insists from the first sentence that you sit down and not stand up again until you've read the last word.”
Quinn Cummings, author of Notes from the Underwire
“Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: an athletic, fiercely independent young woman who, like crime-fiction author Gillian Flynn’s feisty females, is capable of making delightfully acerbic observations.” —Booklist
“Sara J. Henry’s debut starts with a bang—or, more literally, a splash—and doesn’t let up until the final page.” —BookPage
“A compelling plot, a pervading sense of foreboding, well-constructed characters.”  —Kirkus Reviews

 “Take a gulp of air before diving into Vermonter Sara J. Henry’s new mystery, because you’re likely to hold your breath for the whole first chapter.” —Rutland Herald 

A stunner. This disturbing, moving, compelling book will keep readers engaged until the very last page. It is smart, intense, and full of unexpected plot twists.”—Tucson Citizen 

“Part mystery thriller, part family tragedy, part tentative romance, it succeeds on all levels.”—Knoxville News Sentinel

Library Journal
Freelance writer Troy Chance sees a child thrown from a ferry and jumps into the water to save him. Haunted by a past experience with an abandoned child, she decides to be sure that his parents weren't responsible before she notifies the police. She travels to Canada to meet with Paul's divorced father and realizes that she has become more attached to the child than she wanted to be. Accepting an invitation to stay with the family for a few days while Paul recovers from the trauma of his kidnapping, Troy finds herself falling for his father. At the same time, she is unable to leave the investigation in the hands of the police, still fearing that one of the parents could have been involved.Verdict Fans of both mystery and romantic suspense will welcome this promising new author; the unsettled ending hints at a follow-up mystery.—Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs
Kirkus Reviews

In Henry's debut novel, a woman goes to great lengths to protect a boy she pulls out of a frigid lake.

Troy Chance happened to be looking at a ferry traveling across Lake Champlain in the opposite direction from hers when she sees what looks like a little boy being thrown overboard. Without thinking, she jumps in and rescues the lad, whose name turns out to be Paul. Instead of taking him to the authorities, though, she brings him home, telling herself that the police would most likely put the boy in foster care, and maybe even inadvertently return him to whoever had thrown him in in the first place. After a few days, Paul, who speaks only French, reveals that he had been kidnapped along with his mother, but that she had been killed by the kidnappers. He also says his father's name is Philippe Dumond, and after a quick Internet search, Troy has a business address in Ottawa. After meeting Philippe, she decides that he could not have been responsible for the kidnapping, no matter what the police might think, and she returns Paul to him. Sensing the bond that has formed between Paul and Troy, Philippe asks her to stay for a few weeks until the boy settles back into his life. Things go well for a while, but before long it becomes clear that Paul is still in danger, and Troy decides that he will never be safe until his kidnappers are captured. This novel has a lot going for it—a compelling plot, a pervading sense of foreboding, well-constructed characters—but the prose is too often bogged down by distractingly insignificant details. We learn how Troy would have eaten sausages and pancakes if the housekeeper wasn't there, what kind of bagel her brother likes, etc. This overabundance of extraneous details creates unnecessary drag.

Well-wrought for the most part, if occasionally a little waterlogged.

Product Details

Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date:
Troy Chance Series
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

SARA J. HENRY's first novel, Learning to Swim, won the Anthony, Agatha, and Mary Higgins Clark Awards, was a Target Emerging Author pick, and was named one of Best Books of 2011 by the Boston Globe. Her second novel, A Cold and Lonely Place, is an Anthony award nominee for Best Novel and was a Reader's Digest Select Books choice. She has written for PreventionAdirondack LifeBicyclingTriathlete, and other magazines, was an editor at Rodale Books and Women's Sports & Fitness magazine, and was a newspaper and magazine editor. A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Sara lives in Vermont. Visit www.SaraJHenry.com.

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Learning to Swim 3.9 out of 5 based on 6 ratings. 88 reviews.
LeftTurnLady More than 1 year ago
I don't know about you, but when I read a book I want to be captivated by the unfolding story, transported to another time/place and so enamored by the characters that closing the book after I read the final word on the final page is a sad moment. Did "Learning To Swim" deliver? For this reader, the answer is a resounding YES! "If I'd blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn't, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water." Who could not be drawn into a story that starts so quickly? And who could not picture themselves in that moment, wondering what decision they would make in that split second - jump in, call for help or forget what was seen? The minute Troy jumps in and swims across cold Lake Champlain, dives deep to retrieve the boy and gets both of them safely to shore, she becomes my hero. When I learn that no one, absolutely no one, is looking for French-speaking Paul, my maternal instincts kick in, and like Troy, I just want to keep him safe. After these first few pages I am so involved in a craftily woven story of kidnapping, murder, wealth, privilege, deception, trust and yes, a touch of romance, that I follow along, rarely questioning how or why anything is happening. That's what made this book such a fun read, because the author, Sara J. Henry, DID question everything, and dropped the questions into the story like bombs, completely catching me off-guard and taking me on a roller-coaster ride that kept my attention. Every time I thought I knew what would happen next, the story took another detour, and when I finally got to those last pages, I was once again surprised. There is quite a cast of characters, but each one is relevant to the story and introduced so naturally that at times, their importance isn't realized until the end. While Sara rounds out the story very with peripheral details and descriptions, they are not so overwhelming that the story is bogged down with information that doesn't matter. Every person, detail and description has a purpose, and it was only when I got to the end that I discovered how the seemingly unimportant were actually very important, and I appreciated the care with which Sara crafted the story. For me, this book was a great read that had me from the first sentence on the first page. I highly recommend it, and if you enjoy it as much as I did, there's great news! A sequel!!! There's also bad news.we have to wait until February 2012 to continue our journey with Troy and Paul.
goguins66 More than 1 year ago
I saw this in the "new authors" section at B&N and downloaded it immediately. By the third page I knew I was reading something special. Ms. Henry weaves a suspenseful, adventurous and slightly romantic tale that leaves you eager to find out what happens next. Though I had figured out the ending prematurely, I was not disappointed by the heroine's path to the same conclusion. I eagerly await Ms. Henry's next novel, and am thankful B&N drove me to this one!
davidkubicek More than 1 year ago
Learning to Swim begins when freelance writer Troy Chance sees a child plummet from the deck of a passing ferry into Lake Champlain. Instinctively, she dives in and saves him, then begins the long swim back to shore. The child, who speaks only French, tells Troy his name is Paul. Other than that she manages only to get sketchy information from him. He tells her he was kidnapped and held in a room somewhere, and that the kidnappers shot his mother. Troy becomes attached to Paul and, instead of going to the police right away, uses her internet researching skills to do some preliminary investigating of her own. She wants to find out to her satisfaction that the boy will be safe if she turns him over to the authorities and he's returned home. She wants to make sure the father wasn't involved in his abduction. Her investigation leads her into deeper involvement with Paul and his father and puts her under suspicion of a local detective who thinks she had something to do with Paul's initial disappearance. After an attempt on Troy's life, she really hits the investigation trail, determined to find the two men who kidnapped Paul. But what she stumbles into is a twist that I never saw coming. Learning to Swim is Sara J. Henry's debut novel. It is a relationship story as well as a mystery, and on both levels it succeeds very well. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great weekend read. It was perfect for a rainy weekend. I was immediately drawn in from page1and couldn't put it down. The characters were interesting and relatable and the plot twists came out of nowhere. I can't wait for Sara henry's next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the story and the characters were totally interesting. This is a great book that you will not want to miss!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. Engaging mystery & characters. I would read another book by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Troy sees a bundle thrown from a passing ferry and in that split second she realizes it is a child. Without thinking she dives into the water to rescue him. What follows is a great read that will keep you guessing until the end. Fantastic plot twists and the writing keeps you rivited. A great book with well fleshed out characters filled with real emotion. Learning to Swim by Sara Henry is a must read.
MrsKelp More than 1 year ago
This novel had me from the very opening. The acton continues to the end with some twists along the way. At one point it seemed a little to wordy, but picked up and moved on finally. I can't wait to read the next Troy Chance book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read a LOT of mysteries, and this held my interest throughout. Even as I went to work, I kept thinking of the story and couldn't wait to get home to read some more. A woman makes a few unwise decisions about a young boy, but tries to save him from unknown dangers, from family? from murderers?. Another author called this novel mesmerizing. I concur. Even though it's a first novel, it' makes me hope Sara Henry is only beginning to treat us with her stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Hard to put down. Surprising twisrs in plot. Characters were excellent. The ending was not at all what I expected and it has kept me up! I can't wait to read another book by this new author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very very good read
Sharon17 More than 1 year ago
Highly unrealistic, plot holes you could sail a ship through, lackluster characters, sloooowwwww and tedious, dull, dull, dull.
BeaBo 6 days ago
Anonymous 27 days ago
A magnetic story that captures your imagination. Hopefully you can read it from cover to cover, without those pesky interruptions! I am going to buy Sara J. Henry's books, because I am intrigued to discover what she is going to write next. I read a.minimum of 300 books in a year,and I write very few reviews...This book stands out from the majority.
Anonymous 27 days ago
I had great difficulty putting this book down. Sara Henry 's novel surprised me she wrote with the experience of a seasoned author. Look forward to reading more in this series.Recommend it to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story and characters. Kept me interested till the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very fast read. Unbelievable characters and far-fetched plot. Don't waste your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It had a great beginning, until she didn't take a found boy to police. She had a home full of hot guys and a brother whose a cop. The rest of the book is good but predictable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book and I would recommend reading it. I especially liked that it keeps you guessing till the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JThye More than 1 year ago
Great read, love the end except how the personal story falls flat... seems like a lot of build up with no pay off.
MarilynK More than 1 year ago
Very different than books I have read recently. The characters were well developed, and the plot line kept you guessing. Good combination of mystery and romance. This would be a great book for book club discussions. There were some borderline legal and moral issues in the story.I will look for other books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago