Marianne Sciucco’s captivating YA novel, SWIM SEASON, is the “All The Right Moves,” of swimming, illustrating the high-stakes pressure placed on premier athletes whose collegiate hopes and dreams are pinned to success in the pool. As the mother of a competitive swimmer, Sciucco draws from first-hand experience, giving readers a real glimpse into the mindset of these elite swimmers, whose bonds of friendship are tested on the starting blocks, while they also deal with all the other demands of youth.
Swim Season is more than a story about swimming. It is a story of friendship, family loyalty, hard work, and dedication. A whopper of a book, it weighs in at just under six hundred pages. Don’t panic. Sciucco breaks the book down into eighty-eight short, satisfying chapters that allow readers to nibble at the book for days. I found the characters and situations so compelling that I grabbed my tablet every time I had a moment. Yes, it’s that good.
The book opens with tough and guarded transfer student, Aerin Keane, walking into tryouts for Division Champions Two Rivers High School Girls Varsity Swim and Dive Team. Divorce, and other troubles we are dying to understand, cause Two Rivers to be the senior’s third high school. More troubling is that she’s not living with either parents. By the time Aerin shoots off the block for her inaugural swim at Two Rivers, we are hooked and hungry for answers.
Marianne Sciucco doles out breadcrumbs at a delicious pace, while always keeping us at the edge of the darkness, compelling us to follow willingly. Kudos for Sciucco’s characters, who are distinct and complex, as are their individual voices. Aside from Jordan, the team bully, the author makes it difficult to separate good girls and mean girls. All are flawed. All are compelling. All have moments of redemption. We empathize with Aerin and all these young athletes who bear adult responsibilities and pressures while having little to no control over their environments and family lives.
The book is a resounding testament to the complexities of this stressful, sometimes fickle, almost always sleep-deprived, season of life, where friendships are fragile, families are complicated, and big money and entire futures are on the line. I highly recommend Swim Season. All athletes will see themselves in the sacrifice and dedication displayed here, and people who love a young competitor will better understand the mindset of those who do not merely play a sport, but who identify as “athletes.”
SWIM SEASON is available at Amazon.