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.)
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
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)
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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