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Learning to Swim: A Novel Paperback – December 20, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307718395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307718396
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Troy Chance spots what she thinks is a small boy being tossed off the back of a passing ferry, she instinctively jumps into the icy waters of Lake Champlain. She rescues the youngster and discovers that his arms were bound with an adult sweatshirt. He’s incredibly frightened, speaks only French, and won’t tell her what happened. Troy determines that she will keep him safe rather than turn him over to the police. When he finally begins to confide in her, he tells a bizarre tale of being kidnapped, hearing his mother murdered by gunshot, and then being held for months. As Troy tracks down the boy’s father, she begins to question whether she will be able to let him go, since he has unleashed within her a maternal instinct she had no idea she possessed. In her debut, the first in a projected series, Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: an athletic, fiercely independent young woman who, like crime-fiction author Gillian Flynn’s feisty females, is capable of making delightfully acerbic observations. --Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“A single woman dives headlong from a ferry into Lake Champlain to rescue a child, and then must figure out what to do with him. Compulsively readable, this is all about what we do for love.”  —Boston Globe

“From the grabber beginning to the heartfelt conclusion, Sara J. Henry's Learning to Swim is an auspicious debut ... Fresh setting, well-realized characters, cleanly written, with a mysterious and suspenseful story.” Daniel Woodrell, author of The Maid's Version

“Emotional, intense, and engrossing... The talented Sara J. Henry introduces a thoroughly modern heroine with an independent spirit and a tender heart.” Lisa Unger, author of In the Blood

“A terrific debut. This moving and insightful psychological thriller features the inspiring Troy Chancean everywoman hero who women will admire and men will want to meet. I can’t wait for her next adventure.”
Michael Robotham, author of Watching You
 
“Readers will root for Troy Chance from the dramatic opening of Learning to Swim right through to its surprising close. Move over, Kinsey Millhone.” Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Four Ms. Bradwells
 
“From its shocking opening to its stunning conclusion, Learning to Swim is a frightening ride. Sara J. Henry will quite literally take your breath away.”  J.T. Ellison, author of The Lost Key
 
“A thriller of the most thrilling kinda smart and crafty story with whiffs of Rebecca that insists from the first sentence that you sit down and not stand up again until you've read the last word.”
Quinn Cummings, author of Notes from the Underwire
 
“Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: an athletic, fiercely independent young woman who, like crime-fiction author Gillian Flynn’s feisty females, is capable of making delightfully acerbic observations.” —Booklist
 
“Sara J. Henry’s debut starts with a bang—or, more literally, a splash—and doesn’t let up until the final page.” —BookPage
 
“A compelling plot, a pervading sense of foreboding, well-constructed characters.”  —Kirkus Reviews

 “Take a gulp of air before diving into Vermonter Sara J. Henry’s new mystery, because you’re likely to hold your breath for the whole first chapter.” —Rutland Herald 

A stunner. This disturbing, moving, compelling book will keep readers engaged until the very last page. It is smart, intense, and full of unexpected plot twists.”—Tucson Citizen 

“Part mystery thriller, part family tragedy, part tentative romance, it succeeds on all levels.”—Knoxville News Sentinel

More About the Author

Sara J. Henry's first novel, LEARNING TO SWIM, has been called "an auspicious debut" by Daniel Woodrell (WINTER'S BONE) and "emotional, intense, and engrossing" by Lisa Unger - it won the Anthony and Agatha awards for best first novel and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second, A COLD AND LONELY PLACE, which Julia Spencer-Fleming calls "a deeply atmospheric, seductive read and a captivating literary mysterym" won the Silver Falchion award and is nominated for the Anthony Award for best novel - up against Robert Crais, William Kent Krueger, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Julia Spencer-Fleming.

Sara has written for Prevention, Adirondack Life, Bicycling, Triathlete, and other magazines, was an editor at Rodale Books and Women's Sports & Fitness magazine, wrote and co-wrote health and fitness books, and was a newspaper and magazine editor. A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Sara now lives on a dirt road in southern Vermont.

Customer Reviews

Interesting characters and believable story line.
GAN IN TN
The story grabbed me from the very beginning and then there was mystery, suspense and a subtle romance that kept me hooked until the very end.
Kelly Schuknecht
Overall, I look forward to reading Ms. Henry's next book.
Charlotte Anne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By dcbooklover on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"If I'd blinked, I would have missed it." The opening sentence of the book in some ways summarizes one of the central themes of this book perfectly -- how, in the blink of an eye, your life can completely change. In this debut novel from Sara Henry, Troy Chance is a free spirit living unencumbered in Lake Placid, New York. On the ferry on her way to Burlington, VT she sees what looks like a child falling from the ferry crossing in the opposite direction. Acting on instinct, she dives into the water and rescues the child, a 6 year old named Paul. This kicks off a chain of bizarre events, when Troy realizes that Paul is a missing kidnapping victim from Montreal. Against her normal instincts to remain aloof and apart from emotional attachments, Troy becomes intensely involved in Paul's life in the aftermath of his reunion with his father, including actively investigating the kidnapping. Along the way, Troy is forced to acknowledge truths about her life, her emotional state and what she really needs in order to be happy and fulfilled.

Some books defy categorization. This is one of them. It is both women's fiction and mystery/thriller, both emotionally moving and suspenseful. The complexity underlying what could have been a pretty straightforward mystery novel makes this a truly unique reading experience. I read this book in a single day -- it has that intangible "something" that keeps you turning the pages even when your eyes are drooping and the hour grows late. I was happily surprised by how much I liked it.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By valentine03 VINE VOICE on February 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
LEARNING TO SWIM may be the best debut novel I've ever read, and I've read a lot of them. It's written in effortless first person, and only moments into the first chapter I found myself thinking of myself AS the book's main character, even though her life and adventures are very different than mine.

Tucked within this thriller are meditations on the nature of family, how bonding happens, the dangers of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable - things you will take with you, when you climb out of the swift-moving river that is LEARNING TO SWIM.

Bring a towel.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By T. Sutherland on March 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I heard about this book from Read it Forward and was lucky enough to win a signed copy in a blogger's giveaway.

"If I'd blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn't, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water."

If those two sentences grab you like they did me, go out immediately and buy this book! It is well-written, captivating, and ultimately an overall satisfying read. I love the way the author, developed the protagonist, Troy Chance. Troy's comments about being single, sleeping with dogs, and preferring male roommates made her seem like someone I'd hang out with. As a mother myself, I totally understood her quick and deep devotion to the boy she saved and her observation that all of it "seemed to make sense at the time."

I read this book in a little over 24 hours, in between working a full-time job and taking care of a four year old. Yes, it was that engrossing. In the world of TV episodes, this book could have ended at chapter 15, but knowing it was only halfway done, I could only wait for the other shoe to drop. On that note, I could totally see this book as a movie. (But would hate that because they always ruin books that way.) I've been talking about this book so much, that I already have three friends lined up to borrow it now that I've finished!
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Courtney Birst on October 31, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel was okay, nothing I'd recommend to a friend. I found it a bit too unbelievable. For example - after she dives off the boat and swims to shore with the small boy she doesn't immediately go to the police. She offers what I found to be a slightly lame reason for not taking him to the police - because she doesn't want him to get put a foster home while the police investigate what happened. The reason she doesn't want to do this is because she worked with foster kids as a young woman and she hated seeing them being put into foster homes. I realize this might make her reluctant to do so, but it seems far fetched - who the hell would think that keeping a child who was nearly murdered is a good idea and that waiting to contact police is smart?

Not only that but she's able to use her journalistic skills to get clues the police weren't able to find - seems a bit far fetched. When she gets close to the boy's father and discovers someone is tampering with his company it seems unbelievable - if his company is as successful as you're lead to believe (he lives in a mansion, has a live-in nanny/cook, drives a luxury car and wears Armani suits) then I think he would have employed an IT person at some point - instead it takes a woman of average computer skills to set up a backup system on his computer? Come on, that's not believable! Additionally, the main character seemed very flat except at certain times. She doesn't show emotion to her closest female friend yet she's so attached to the small boy after only a short period of time she's willing to change her life dramatically for him? Her exboyfriend makes an odd appearance in the book, one that seemed necessary only because the author couldn't find another way to tie together the book. And without ruining the climactic moment of the story, I found the last portion of the book - when it all comes together and the mystery is solved - to be, what else, slightly unbelievable.
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