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The Girl Who Stopped Swimming Paperback – May 26, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances. Laurel, a high-end quilt maker, sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom one night. When it leads her to the backyard and a dead girl in the swimming pool, the life Laurel had hoped to build in her gated Florida neighborhood with her video-game designer husband, David, and their tween daughter, Shelby, starts to fall apart. Though the police clear the drowning as accidental, it soon appears that Shelby and her friend Bet may have been involved. Bet, who lives in DeLop, Laurel's impoverished hometown, was staying over the night of the drowning and plays an increasingly important role as the truth behind the drowning comes to light. Meanwhile, Laurel's sister, Thalia, whose unconventional ways are anathema to Laurel's staid existence, comes to stay with the family and helps sort things out. Subplots abound: Laurel thinks David is having an affair, and Thalia reveals some ugly family secrets involving the death of their uncle. What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel's finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...a great tale [that] builds to an exciting and violent ending, one that surprises and yet seems to fit."
-USA Today

"... buoyant and moving ....beautifully balanced between magical and realist fiction... closer in tone and voice to Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones' or Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy."
-Atlanta Journal Constitution

"A ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one. Jackson's latest is a wild, smartly calibrated achievement. A-."
-Entertainment Weekly

"Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances."
-Publisher's Weekly

"Joshilyn Jackson has done it again... her skillful unraveling of family secrets and betrayal left me breathless. You must read this book!"
-Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446697826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446697828
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Peggy Tibbetts VINE VOICE on March 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The ghost of a young girl shows up in Laurel's bedroom in the middle of the night. When she follows it to the window she sees the body of her 13-year old daughter's best friend, Molly floating face down in her swimming pool. Of course that would turn anyone's life upside down. But Laurel Hawthorne isn't just anyone. She's a professional quilt designer who has created an orderly life with her video game designer husband, David, among the meticulous homes and gardens of their Victorianna subdivision. There is no room in their lives for this tragedy.

Yet Laurel is haunted, not only by the dead girl but also by her daughter Shelby's reaction, and her friend Bet who was staying over at the time. Bet Clemmons is Laurel's do-gooder project, a young girl she has rescued from dregs of society in the washed up little mining town of DeLop, which represents all that is unholy in her life. As a trained artist, Laurel knows there's something wrong with this picture. But up till now her whole life has been about burying secrets, not digging them up.

In order to get to the bottom of this inconvenient mystery, Laurel calls on her estranged sister Thalia. The polar opposite of Laurel, Thalia is a flamboyant actress and the keeper of secrets. Laurel knows she can get Thalia to do the dirty work. What she doesn't know is what that will cost her in the end.

Joshilyn Jackson's vivid characters and spellbinding prose - you can almost hear the drawl and smell the earthiness - weave a tale as intricate and fascinating as one of Laurel's quilts. Jackson takes readers on a journey past the façades of flower gardens, swimming pools, and Wal-Mart, through the crumbling asphalt and broken dreams of lives in the rural South, to uncover the mystery of "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming".
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Format: Hardcover
Like others, this is my first book by Jackson, and I too hope she gets a larger readership because this was a great novel. Like Laurel's quilts, Jackson has sewn it all down to perfection here: dazzling characters, humor, pathos, a plot that you probably will not figure out the ending to (why try anyway is always my motto), and wonderful contrast in settings between Victoriana and DeLop.

And, since I had just come off a darker Eliz. George novel, I especially liked a happy ending where every i was dotted, all questions answered, and even an epilogue. I love epilogues. Why have open endings - I'm paying to have the author write the book - not me! Then if I don't like the ending I can discuss that in my book club or not read another book by that author.

I promise you this is a page-turning mystery that you will enjoy, and I don't make many promises.
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Format: Hardcover
Once again, Joshilyn Jackson has written an incredible book!

From the first page, where a ghost appears to lead Laurel to a dead body in her pool, I was hooked. The story held me through sister squabbles, family strife, marriage drama, and a murder mystery. And through all of that finely tuned plot, there was the voice of Ms. Jackson, with her sweet Southern drawl, telling me all of the deep, dark secrets inside of Laurel's surface perfect life.

Truly, this book will be a bestseller!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms. Jackson recently explained at her Margaret Mitchell house appearance that she "likes to put all her characters in a room and set fire to one of them." In this case it's Laurel, a 30ish mother and housewife who lives in a pleasant Panhandle McSuburbia when the ghost of her daughter's best friend visits her bedroom one sultry night. This rocks her world enough to spur her to reach out to her older sister Thalia to protect her own daughter Molly in the police investigation and ensuing neighborhood microscope. Thalia has the gift of sniffing out a situation and turning it on it's head, something that eludes Laurel.
With flashbacks and in dialouge it's revealed that Thalia and Laurel grew up far from the life Laurel currently enjoys and Ms. Jackson expertly sucks you in and makes you bond with her characters. Do yourself a favor-buy this one for yourself, your girlfriends and your sisters and share the joy of a tale well told!
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book on a whim and was not even interested in it. It ended up being one of the best books I've read all year. I loved it. I thought the storyline was very well thought out and the characters were great people who had very distinct personalities, and believable at that. The twists and turns were always very well done. I highly recommend it. Anyone who enjoys Jodi Picoult will enjoy this book in my opinion
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Format: Hardcover
I had never heard of this book and came across it while looking at Amazon Reviews. I picked it up not feeling overly confident that I would enjoy it. Much to my surprise, the book immediately grabbed my attention and kept it. This is different from many of the books I read and was a nice diversion. The character development is excellent and I enjoyed the story line. It is a modern day mystery with a very interesting ending. This would be a good choice beach or pool book.
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Format: Hardcover
It's important to realize that this story is not about solving a murder. It is about the characters changing and growing as a result of a child's death. I really enjoyed the book right from the start all the way until just before it ended. Then I was greatly disappointed. The story was about the main characters learning that it didn't work to keep secrets from everyone and that it was counterproductive and even harmful to pretend that there is no ugliness in the world. The main character, Laurel, even wishes that she had shown her daughter, Shelby, some of the ugliness because she thought it might make her more knowledgeable and therefore more prepared to deal with the situation she was in. And yet almost at the very end of the story, after all the main adults of the story were supposedly enlightened about the benefits of being open and honest, they lie to Shelby and withhold the ugliness of the situation they find themselves in. This doesn't work with the story. If the characters really were as enlightened as they are made out to be, they would have told Shelby the truth. It stands out as a blatant mistake and makes the whole story lose its realism.
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