An awesome swimmer with a frustrating learning disability struggles in the roiling waters of adolescence.
Annabelle, 13, is relieved to put seventh grade behind her. Despite tutoring and accommodation for completing tests, she remains a C student at the academically rigorous boarding school she attends as a scholarship day student. With boarders gone, she looks forward to hanging out with classmates Mia and Jeremy, whose families, like hers, are year-round residents on their New England island (which seems to have a largely white population). They’re top students, but in summer Annabelle is the confident, focused star of their swim team. Thrilled to be invited onto the high school team, she shrugs off her mom’s conditions, including summer tutoring. After a rocky start, Annabelle keeps up with her older teammates. Out of the pool, it’s another matter. Crushing on flirtatious Connor, Annabelle blows off tutoring and strains her friendship with Jeremy; her friendship with Mia has become an uncomfortable competition. When Annabelle’s misdeeds disappoint not only her mom, but her stepdad, whose pride in her swimming is crucial to Annabelle’s self-esteem, she turns to her dad. She remembers his failures, but right now, their similarities might matter more. Annabelle has a lot on her plate. Readers will root for her as she ricochets between ebullience and despair, empathy and hurt, confidence and doubt, pride and self-loathing—we’ve been there, too, or soon will be.
Captures the turmoil of adolescence with wisdom and humor in near-pointillist detail. (Fiction. 10-14)