Home after the first year at college—can you keep your secrets hidden?
In Fishman’s (Balancing Acts, 2010) latest, Ruth Wasserman returns home to Alabama to resume lifeguarding and coaching at the local pool with her brother David. Ruth’s friends and family marvel at her freshly skinny body and even ask her to help a neighborhood girl lose weight. A soccer phenom, David has always been the golden child in the Wasserman family. But Ruth and David have secrets. At the pool one day, tragedy strikes: A little girl slips under the water. She is in David’s blind spot, but Ruth leaps into the water, saving the child. What might have been a happy ending quickly unravels into accusations of racism, a threatened lawsuit and an increasingly inscrutable David. Meanwhile, Ruth begins a romance with Chris, one of David’s friends. Swim meets are lost and won. The racism and antisemitism Ruth didn’t notice before becomes clear. The board members strategize to avoid the lawsuit. But Ruth is becoming increasingly suspicious of David. Rumors swirl about his alleged use of drugs, and perhaps he has even dropped out of college. The golden child might not be so golden after all. While the sibling code of silence urges Ruth to keep David’s secrets, she wants to know the truth from his own mouth. David has his own suspicions about Ruth’s dramatic weight loss and her new, strange relationship with food. Even Chris notices that she brushes her tummy as if she were trying to brush it off her body. Trouble looms on the horizon, and soon all the beans will be spilled.
Conflicts and secrets abound, yet the tension doesn’t quite build, so the eruption of the final crisis seems abrupt and the resolution far too easy.