four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
52-May-June-2011
By: 
Sara J Henry
user_rating: 
0

A-Learning to SwimLearning to Swim is Sara J. Henry's debut novel. She lives in Lake Placid, New York.

The Story: "If I'd blinked, I would have missed it," says Troy Chance, a sportswriter from Lake Placid. What Troy sees takes her breath away: a child tossed from a ferry going in the opposite direction across icy Lake Champlain. Troy jumps overboard to rescue the small, terrified boy--Paul, a six-year-old who speaks only French--and swims to shore. But instead of running to the police, Troy follows her instincts and takes Paul home, expecting to hear news about a missing boy. Hearing nothing, Troy tracks down Paul's divorced father--and soon finds herself in a foreign world of privilege and affluence, where the abduction and murder of a child and a mother can happen in the blink of an eye.
Crown. 304 pages. $24. ISBN: 9780307718389

Florida Times-Union 4 of 5 Stars
"Author Sara J. Henry has adeptly interwoven a highly gripping kidnapping mystery with the fascinating character study of a woman forced by extreme circumstances to reevaluate everything she thought she knew to be true about herself. Henry's relaxed, engaging writing style makes for a comfortable read, as if you were returning to the author well into a series instead of it being a debut novel." Elizabeth A. White

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"Learning to Swim ... is the perfect romantic suspense mystery for people who won't admit they read romantic suspense mysteries. ... The tension holds up surprisingly well, although it doesn't pay to examine the logic of the situation too closely." Marilyn Stasio

I Love a Good Mystery 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Henry has created a very likable, down to earth protagonist in Troy Chance, and that's the main strength of this book. ... The plot had a few twists and turns, and while I thought the ending was a little bit of a cheat, I liked that the author stayed true to her protagonist's character." Tania Hutchison

RT Book Reviews 3.5 of 5 Stars
"There are many points in this novel where the heroine could have made the easy choice, and taken a more clich├ęd route. That she doesn't is just one of the reasons this book is worth your time." Michelle Wiener

Critical Summary

Despite some tangential subplots and a few logistical flaws, critics felt that Henry's debut work--and any future installments--holds great promise for the author. In particular, they identified with the heroine--affable, human, and extremely sympathetic, especially when she goes down dubious paths as she becomes evermore protective of Paul and is forced to reassess her relationships and life goals. Critics also praised Henry's writing, the plot's twists and turns, and her use of suspense. "The throbbing heart of the story is right out of Jane Eyre," noted the New York Times Book Review. Readers who enjoy Learning to Swim will be happy to hear that a planned sequel will be published next year.