Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE BIG SWIM by Cary Fagan


by Cary Fagan

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-88899-969-6
Publisher: Groundwood

This is Ethan’s first year at summer camp, and he’d rather go unnoticed. He’s a closet writer who hates sports and loves nature. Despite his anxiety, Ethan finds that camp isn’t so bad. He’s not the worst at the activities, and there’s a girl, Amber, he likes. Then the new kid, Zach, arrives, preceded by tall-tale rumors of bad behavior. Ethan can’t help finding Zach fascinating. He’s aloof, and he listens to Buddy Holly on a cassette recorder the size of a shoebox. It’s when the other campers ostracize Zach that a tentative friendship begins to develop. Ethan’s straightforward narration is honest in its confrontation of both his shortcomings and Zach’s. Zach, who occasionally goes missing, seems uninterested in the camp’s activities, even ignoring the highly anticipated endurance test, The Big Swim. The summer reaches its zenith when Zach draws Amber and Ethan into his perilous, personal vision of triumph. Set in an indefinite past when life wasn’t abuzz with technology, this story is a forest-scented breath of fresh air with crisp storytelling, mild tension and quiet revelations. (Fiction. 9-12)