Customer Reviews: Swim the Fly
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Customer Reviews

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on May 6, 2009
I was eager to get Swim the Fly by Don Calame. Because it is, in a word, hilarious. But being an English major, I can not be concise and therefore must use words to describe this novel: uproarious, rollicking, fun, and side-splitting come to mind.

Matt's about to spend the summer the way he and his friends, Coop and Sean, always do: competing against each other to be the first to reach a goal. This summer's goal? To be the first to see a real live naked girl. Soon Matt's got another goal to reach: swimming the 100 yard butterfly on his swim team to impress his crush Kelly and the new girl on the swim team. To accomplish this, Matt seeks the help of a eccentric and nearly-sadistic swim instructor, Ulf, who tortures Matt with his unorthodox training methods. Meanwhile, the race to reach the guys' goal continues with hilarious results.

Calame's background as a screenwriter (Employee of the Month and the Disney Channel original movie Hounded) shines throughout the novel, as each page is perfectly paced, beat by beat. Here the laughs really are a mile a minute. As each plan fails - some the fodder of popular teen shows, such as nude beaches, hiding in the locker room - they get more wild and ridiculous, but always hilarious. Whether it's the mishaps due to a powerful new laxative or an ill-fated trip to a nude beach, Matt and his friends never fail to bring the laughs. Although slightly crude, like films of the Jude Apatow ilk, Swim the Fly still packs a lot of heart. The rest of the novel is rounded out with great moments by his family, including a grandfather sweet on a widowed neighbor. Not just a boy book, it's a great summer read and one that'll be packed in my beach bag this summer!
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on June 30, 2009
Like all great comedies, Swim the Fly transcends "funniness."

In addition to the almost incontinence-causing hilarity, this book is true to life, capturing the awkward, sometimes mortifying experience of being an adolescent, while entertaining with brilliant characters, snappy dialogue and a gripping, redemptive story.

The novel is full of witticisms that stick in my memory, but are probably unprintable here (I haven't read Amazon's review policy). Calame has that rare gift of fiction writers -- a fresh, unique and memorable voice.

He has hit the ball out of the park here.

p.s. I had the same feeling of hearing an original voice that I did when watching Juno. I hope this, too, is made into a movie.
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on January 28, 2015
I'm not a laugh-out-loud kind of reader. But I found myself, probably about a quarter of the way through, snickering, with my wife asking "what's so funny?" By the halfway point, I was beyond snickering and just plain laughing out loud. And the big bonus? It's got HEART. I love books with heart. You feel for these kids, you understand them, you cheer for them, and in their trials you see yourself a little, and what's important in life: compassion, family, real friends, and doing the right thing even when it hurts.
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on July 17, 2014
I bought this for a group of students who weren't big readers and quite frankly reluctant to read anything. When they read the synopsis of this novel the whole group of them said, "Let's read it!" and they did! They would come into chat about the story and what they thought about the characters. This group of boys liked the novel so much they actually made a short iMovie trailer for it.
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on November 15, 2009
I spotted this for my 13 year old swimmer son and read large parts myself after he fell asleep. Reminded me of Carl Hiaason (his adult fiction, Skinny Dip), fast very well written and creative. My 15 year old picked it up and said, "I won't like this, I'm not on a swim team." I think he later read it twice. Laugh out loud funny and yes, the consensus in our household is that it would make a great movie. Buy this for your teen and enjoy it yourself.
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on May 18, 2009
Best friends Matt Gratton, Coop and Sean always set a goal for themselves each summer. This year Coop has come up with the best one so far: to see a "real, live naked girl" for the first time. Matt doesn't think they will find a way to achieve it, but the trio creates several elaborate plans to make their dream come true. Most of them fail, but one "fool proof" idea actually succeeds; sort of.

If that weren't enough, the teens are also on the Rockville swim team. Their coach needs someone to "swim the fly" (the 100-yard butterfly), which is generally considered the toughest stroke. Matt volunteers, even though he can barely do the butterfly, much less swim it competitively for such a long distance. He wants to impress the newest member of the team, Kelly West, who has turned from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. So what if Kelly is going out with the best swimmer on one of the opposing teams, a buff guy whose best stroke is the butterfly?
When Matt tries to train his body to meet the rigors of the race, he runs into all kinds of trouble, like trying to sneak into a private pool so he won't have to practice in front of his friends and accidentally trashing his brother's room when he's using his brother's weights to build his muscles.

While reading SWIM THE FLY, it's easy to identify with Matt's fears and insecurities. He's skinny and geeky, and not the type of guy beautiful Kelly would be impressed with. It's hard to imagine him ever being tough enough to "swim the fly" for 100 yards, either. Yet you find yourself rooting for him to succeed, despite all the obstacles.

Author Don Calame has given us a glimpse into the mind of a teenage boy, as this book is based on a true story from his adolescence when he was asked by his coach to swim the 100-yard butterfly. Like the character here, Calame was a skinny teen who knew he would lose the race to the biggest, strongest kid on one of the other teams. In an interview, he was asked, "What do you want readers to take away from this novel?" He replied, "Mostly I'd like my readers to have a good time with the characters and the story --- to laugh a whole lot, to be entertained." I think he succeeded admirably.

If you're easily offended by the use of foul language and crude references to bodily functions and male body parts, be advised that the narrative and dialogue is liberally laced with both. I understand the reason for their inclusion, particularly in a book of this nature, but the story would have been just as strong without them --- or at least without so many of them. Having said that, my advice to you is to simply enjoy SWIM THE FLY.

--- Reviewed by Christine Irvin
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on April 20, 2009
A sweet, funny and heartwarming book that entertains from page one. Chapter nine, Disguises, had me laughing out loud. Would make a great movie.
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on June 12, 2014
I may have a very immature sense of humour, but the gross scenes in this novel had me hooting with laughter. Enjoyed the banter between the boys - all so perfect. Their friendship, while still being boys, was the shine in this novel.
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on June 22, 2011
What a surprising amount of fun. I had read somewhere this book was raunchy and crude, so I waded in expecting f-bombs and über-amounts of teenage crudity. While there is a smattering of that sort of thing, it is totally in keeping with (what I consider to be) the average "real" teen and the overall mood of the book is just great. Matt, Sean and Coop are hormone-laden teens, united in their summer pact to see their first, real, naked girl. Calame portrays the teens (both boys and girls) with generous amounts of heart, humor and even intelligence. I found a few of the adults a little over-the-top quirky, but maybe that's just me. Mid-teen readers who enjoyed THE OSTRICH BOYS and DAIRY QUEEN and those a few years beyond THE WIMPY KID and THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA would probably enjoy this book as well. I'll be looking forward to Don Calame's next book.
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on February 19, 2011
Swim the Fly is one of the best books I've read. I'm 15 years old now and had to read this book last year for summer reading. As you could imagine, I didn't really like picking up a book because it was summer! But when I was a couple pages into this book, I was hooked. It has everything us teenage boys want in a book. It has kids about our age so we could relate to it, girls that they sometimes have sexual scenes with, funny jokes and pranks and how these teenage boys get through summer. The book isn't too hard, so just about anyone can read it. It's a very good book for any teen boy and I really liked it, so I definetly recommend getting this book!
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