#21: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

I’m not a fan of mystery and I don’t like ghost stories, but I read this book straight through, staying up until 3 AM because I needed to know what happened.

The book is realistic fiction, except for the fact that Laurel can see ghosts.  Well, one ghost, until a second one shows up.

She wakes up in the night and her 13 year old daughter’s best friend is standing next to the bed.  Molly leads Laurel to the backyard where her drowned body is in the pool.

From this frantic opening, Laurel’s life twists back and forth between her childhood and the horror and mystery of what happened to Molly.  Her sister Thalia is in lockstep with everything, even though Laurel wants her gone.

Thalia is chaos.  She detests and pities Laurel’s life – husband, child, house.  She’s an actress, choosing who she wants to be whenever she feels like it and she seems to believe her major role in life is to fuck up Laurel’s any way she can.

The problem is, Jackson doesn’t let you hate her.

Laurel is forced to confront her childhood and the decisions she made as a  young adult that led to where she is now.  She loves her life and her family, but she needs to deal with these two ghosts.  The only way she can do it is with Thalia.

Jackson created something real with Thalia.  I wanted to hate her, I wanted Laurel to banish her from her life, and just when I’d get to the point where I felt she was too cruel and immature and foolish to be worth anything, she’d do something that showed she had pure love for Laurel and honestly thought she was helping.  These moments weren’t pitiful.  They were realistic and honest and Thalia made Laurel’s character stronger.

I stayed up way past my bedtime because I needed to know the truth.  I guessed bits and pieces of Laurel’s past and was right about most of it, but the truth about Molly came out of nowhere.  I was really pleased with the answer, if one can be pleased about the murder of a teenage girl.

Jackson also did a solid job writing Laurel’s relationship with her husband, daughter, and parents.  All of the characters were strong and carefully created to fit together into a realistic family dynamic.   I like getting irritated at a character for doing something real.  I hate getting irritated at a character because no one acts that way in real life.  Jackson puts a lot of reality into these pages.

This one is a little bit of everything.  Ghosts, mystery, family relationships, childhood tales…  A mix that could have gone wrong, but Jackson controls it and writes a good story.

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One response to “#21: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

  1. Pingback: pyrajane’s #21 and #22 | Cannonball Read III

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