Swim That Rock

( 5 )

Overview

A young working-class teen fights to save his family’s diner after his father is lost in a fishing-boat accident.

When his dad goes missing in a fishing-boat accident, fourteen-year-old Jake refuses to think he may have lost his father forever. But suddenly, nothing seems certain in Jake’s future, and now his family’s diner may be repossessed by loan sharks. In Narragansett Bay, scrabbling out a living as a quahogger isn’t easy, but with the help of some local clammers, Jake is ...

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Swim That Rock

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Overview

A young working-class teen fights to save his family’s diner after his father is lost in a fishing-boat accident.

When his dad goes missing in a fishing-boat accident, fourteen-year-old Jake refuses to think he may have lost his father forever. But suddenly, nothing seems certain in Jake’s future, and now his family’s diner may be repossessed by loan sharks. In Narragansett Bay, scrabbling out a living as a quahogger isn’t easy, but with the help of some local clammers, Jake is determined to work hard and earn enough money to ensure his family’s security and save the diner in time. Told with cinematic suspense and a true compassion for the characters, Swim That Rock is a fast-paced coming-of-age story that beautifully and evocatively captures the essence of coastal Rhode Island life, the struggles of blue-collar family dynamics, and the dreams of one boy to come into his own.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - John Freeman Gill
…an affable coming-of-age novel…The novel's authors grew up on fishing vessels…and their storytelling is at its most assured during the bay and river scenes and in describing the nuances of the bullraker's craft…Jake's voice is credible and appealing.
Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
Rocco (Blackout) and Primiano deliver a predictable but entertaining coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the New England fishing industry. In order to save his family's diner, 14-year-old Jake Cole needs to finish raising $10,000 by the end of the month, so he follows in his late father's footsteps as a quahogger, fishing up the profitable clams. While he also takes on some less-than-legal nighttime work with the shady “Captain," Jake's big chance seems poised to arrive with the opening of Barrington Beach, long closed due to pollution and one of the best quahog sites in the area. Can Jake balance quahogging by day and avoiding the “clam cops" at night, while growing closer to the lovely Darcy at the diner? Steeped in atmosphere and rich in detail, this adventure captures the salt in the air as well as the omnipresent ticking deadline. While the framework, if not the specifics, of the story are familiar, Jack's struggle is easily relatable thanks to deft characterizations and an overall sense of authenticity. Ages 12–up. Agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative Management. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
An affable coming-of-age novel… Jake’s voice is credible and appealing. Particularly touching is his developing relationship with Darcy, a waitress who swears long sleeves to conceal her arms, one of which is badly burned. Darcy’s scars, like Jake’s ungainliness, can be read as any flaw that preoccupies an ill-at-ease teenager. But their story offers a way toward self-acceptance.
—The New York Times Book Review

Swim That Rock is a brilliantly crafted page-turner and heartwarming story of friendship and family – full of storms, mystery, danger, mobsters, and even the odd pirate. Like the New England quahoggers in their novel, John Rocco and Jay Primiano know how to bring the boat in full. Humor, adventure, wonderful characters, stakes that matter, and a setting so lovingly described you can taste the salt in the air – Swim That Rock is a rare catch.
—Rick Riordan

Jake and his friends are extremely likable and the teen characters are all well-developed. This is a well-written and exciting action and adventure story that will be sure to please middle school boys who are looking for an engaging read. Rocco and Primiano have written a novel that will appeal, so be sure to hand it to all your male readers.
—Library Media Connection

The rich imagery of life in a fishing town, combined with action that primarily revolves around intense quahogging expeditions, makes this a refreshingly unique read.
—School Library Journal

Landlubbers who think they won’t give a rip for a novel about clamming have another think coming. ... Like all good maritime novels, this one will have landlocked kids pining for a strong gust of salt spray.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Readers will be hooked by the exciting opening scene as a hurricane rips the shore and Captain takes Jake out on the dangerous waters to pirate motors from sinking boats. With a lushly detailed sense of place and character, the story delineates the struggle of a boy coming to terms with his situation.
—The Horn Book

[An] entertaining coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the New England fishing industry. ... Steeped in atmosphere and rich in detail, this adventure captures the salt in the air as well as the omnipresent ticking deadline. ... Jack's struggle is easily relatable thanks to deft characterizations and an overall sense of authenticity.
—Publishers Weekly

[T]he distinct, clearly realized setting details distinguish this title from the vast schools of novels for young teens swimming in the publishing sea... Fills the bill for teens looking for an atypical action adventure.
—Kirkus Reviews

Jake’s willingness to work wicked hard on both sides of the law to remain part of his Narragansett Bay community is vividly conveyed... The coauthors incorporate autobiographical elements, which lend the tale’s cast and setting a salty authenticity.
—Booklist

The authors, both experienced quahoggers, capture the hard labor and satisfaction of working on the water. Teen readers will get caught up in the danger, action and hint of romance in this novel vividly set in the Ocean State.
—The Providence Journal

Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Jake Cole’s fisherman father disappears during a boat accident. His dad left a mountain of debt owed to a nasty loan shark, who threatens Jake and his mom. But people come to the Coles’ rescue. Gene takes Jake on his quahog clamming boat and then a fellow named Captain takes him out at night to do shady things like claim possibly abandoned motors from boats stranded during a hurricane. The girls who work at the diner also help by planning a cabaret evening. When Gene is badly injured in a boating accident, Jake and Captain take him to the hospital in a neighboring town. At first Jake is uneasy about taking Gene’s boat out, but he will garner much needed money with a big haul from a bit of the bay just opened up to the quahoggers. Gene’s hospital bills are going to be huge and Jake must pay back the money his dad owes. Jake gets to the new clamming ground early and positions the boat where Gene told him was the best spot. His friend Tommy arrives to help. A kid in his fancy boat with the latest fishing gear pulls up nearby and it is readily apparent he does not know what he is doing. Jake helps him out. Jake ends up with an excellent catch for which he gets a fair price. Once back at his homeport, Jake takes the money to the loan shark, but it is not enough, until the loan shark discovers Jake helped his son. So the rest of the debt is forgiven. Jake finally admits his dad is dead, but knows the whole town wants the family to stay. This well told story has lots of information about the life of a shell fisherman. Read the book to understand what “swimming the rock means.” Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan; Ages 13 up.
School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 6 Up—After growing eight inches in only a year, 14-year-old Jake Cole has a knack for tripping over himself. Since his dad has gone missing-presumed dead in a fishing accident-it's not only Jake's body that feels out of control. If he and his mom can't come up with $10,000 in two weeks, they will lose their diner on Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, and will be forced to move in with Jake's grandmother in Arizona. Determined not to leave his father behind, Jake takes matters into his own hands, working any job he can get that will bring him closer to paying off his family's debt. During the day, this means quahogging with the local clammers. At night, Jake takes riskier jobs, working for a gritty and mysterious stranger known only as "Captain." On the water, Jake is anything but uncoordinated. He can bring in more quahogs than almost any clammer in the Bay, but will it be enough to save the diner? This fast-paced coming-of-age tale follows a predictable plotline that readers have seen before, but the rich imagery of life in a fishing town, combined with action that primarily revolves around intense quahogging expeditions, makes this a refreshingly unique read. The beginning feels harried, throwing readers into the middle of a confusing action sequence, but the authors soon find their rhythm. Although somewhat light on character development, this feel-good story illustrates the value of hard work and determination.—Liz Overberg, Darlington School, Rome, GA
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-29
A teen goes to desperate lengths to save his family's diner in this unevenly executed fishing drama set on Narragansett Bay. Fourteen-year-old Jake Cole's father was lost at sea last year. Since then, he and his mother haven't been able to keep up with the family diner's mortgage payments to the local loan sharks. His mother is ready to give up and move in with his grandmother in Arizona, but Jake has a plan. Previously polluted Barrington Beach is about to be reopened for quahog harvesting. If he and his father's old quahogging buddy Gene can pull enough clams once the beach reopens, they may be able to raise most of the mortgage money. Jake is working on getting the rest of the money by illegally fishing at night with a mysterious man he calls Captain, who claims to have known his father. But when Gene is hurt in a boating accident, Jake must work Barrington Beach alone. Can he pull enough quahogs to pay off the mob? While the distinct, clearly realized setting details distinguish this title from the vast schools of novels for young teens swimming in the publishing sea, choppy pace and perfunctory dialogue drag it down to the ocean floor. Nevertheless, fills the bill for teens looking for an atypical action adventure. (map) (Fiction. 12-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763669058
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 211,249
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John Rocco is the author and illustrator of several books for children, including Blackout, a Caldecott Honor Book. He also illustrated The Flint Heart by Katherine and John Paterson and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. John Rocco lives in Los Angeles.

Jay Primiano is a poet, performer, and most recently, children’s book author. Like his co-author, John Rocco, Jay Primiano was raised on fishing boats. He started working on a commercial lobster boat when he was eleven years old and still has a deep connection to the waters of Rhode Island, where he spends much of his free time teaching his daughters how to catch dinner. He lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2014

    Sounds really intresting

    Had the authors come to my school and told us about the book so excited to start reading

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Action, adventure, and young love all in one well-written story

    Action, adventure, and young love all in one well-written story that will appeal to even the hard to reach teens. This is not your typical have-to-read! Kick back and
    Enjoy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Great Book!

    One of the best books ever, fast paced story about a teen boy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    I

    I have to get this because its mandatory summer readinh

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  • Posted April 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Great coming of age story! In the interest of full disclosure,

    Great coming of age story!

    In the interest of full disclosure, I received an advance reader edition of this book from Candlewick Press and Net Galley for the purpose of an honest review.

    4 Stars

    I enjoyed this book and felt that it would be a perfect book for young teens. It may have a stronger appeal for boys with the strong male protagonist. I would rate this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

    Jake Cole lives with his mother in an apartment above their diner. His father is presumed dead but Jake still holds out hope that his father may someday return. Jake live in a fishing town and the diner caters to the fishermen who work the waters. Jake works with his father’s friend, Gene, clamming or quahogging. He finds out that the diner owes $10,000 to loan sharks. This debt has to be paid by the end of the month or they will lose the diner. Jake is determined to come up with the money to save the diner. Gene offers to use all the money they can make to pay back the loan. Unfortunately, Gene is injured and unable to work shortly after the agreement is made. Jake spends time working with “captain” earning money in questionable ways.

    An area is being opened for clamming, that has been long closed and all of the local fishermen cannot wait. Since Gene is injured, Jake decides to take his boat and go out by himself. On this fishing trip, Jake learns who his true friends are and how tough he can be when needed. He also proves that he is willing to help others even when there is nothing in it for him. His friends and family work together on an event at the diner to help raise money. In the end, Jake’s good deed saves the diner.

    This story was very well written. The characters were all very likeable. I found myself hoping that Jake could find a way to save the diner. The supporting characters were wonderful: Tommy and Darcy were both flawed but genuine. This is a great coming of age story where we see a boy struggling to come to terms with his father’s loss who refuses to give up on his home and livelihood. We see a true friendship with Tommy and Jake and with Darcy and Jake. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a realistic coming of age story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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