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Swim to Me: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 1, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, August 1, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Carter follows her plucky New York journalist's memoir Nothing to Fall Back On and first novel The Orange Blossom Special with another sweet story of self-reinvention. Delores Walker, 17, leaves her troubled home in the Bronx of 1973 to become a mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs in Tampa, Fla. There, in a series of fortuitous events, ugly duckling Delores becomes the star of the show, a local hero, the most popular girl in town (although she remains unfailingly nice) and the catalyst for an unlikely family reunion. Carter jumps from head to head without providing much insight into her characters, including the slimily manipulative and ambitious TV producer, Alan Sommers, and the gentle circus giant, T. Rex, who's little more than a vehicle for folksy wisdom. But Carter is less interested in character development than in storytelling, which she does with aplomb, as Delores faces fame-related conflicts, and resort owner Thelma Foote has wisdom to spare. The results are sensationalist, predictable and satisfying. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

Teenage Delores Walker is determined to make something of her life, motivated, in part, by her sad-sack Brooklyn family. After her father walks out, her embittered mother is forced to work two jobs. Delores, eager to escape her dismal family life, heads to Florida, where she is hired as a mermaid for an operation that has fallen on hard times, losing business to the recently opened Walt Disney Resort. Weeki Wachee is run by Thelma Foote, a lonely but tough businesswoman who is all too aware that the tattered, kitschy costumes and tired swim routines are in need of a touch of pizzazz. When Delores and her fellow mermaids cook up a routine they dub The Merfather (a play on The Godfather), the crowds show up in droves. A stint as a TV weather girl and an unexpected family reunion all contribute to Delores' grand reinvention of her life. In her warm, appealing second novel, Carter (The Orange Blossom Special, 2005) displays a sure feel for her 1970s Florida setting, right down to the aqua color schemes. Wilkinson, Joanne

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565124928
  • ASIN: B003156CFS
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,935,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dorothy J. Ownes on August 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What a delight this book is! I was transported to the muggy sweltering landscape of Weeki Wachee Springs near Tampa FL by Carter's descriptions of mermaid life. The story of young Delores Walker's transformation into the star mermaid, Delores Taurus, is inspirational. Her decaying life in the Bronx in the early 70's leaves her hopeless and yearning for more. Remembering one very happy moment in her childhood while visiting "the only live mermaid show in the world", she decides to leave her needy mother and little brother to pursue her dream of becoming a mermaid herself. Carter draws us in with exotic characters, each with their own story of how they came to Weeki Wachee, and why they are still there. Little snippets of history come through to remind us of the period (Buicks were big, Nixon was in office), and several references to the just opened Disney World in Orlando point out how different our perceptions of fantasy and reality can be. [...] for a fascinating peek at this institution that has managed to survive in spite of America's shifting views on entertainment. And read this book - you may want to become a mermaid yourself.
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Format: Hardcover
With an engaging premise and a spunky teenaged main character like Delores, I hoped this title would appeal to high school students, but it doesn't pass muster. Perhaps some adult readers would enjoy the walk down memory lane with nostalgic references that abound from the 60s and 70s including Danny Kaye songs, the NY Yankees, Dairy Queen and popular Florida tourist attractions. Unfortunately, not all the history is correct. In the story Disney World in Orlando has just opened which places the story in 1971 or 1972, but there's a mention of Walt Disney walking into a conference room. Mr. Disney passed away in 1966. Besides historical inaccuracies, the story line is only a notch above average so it isn't a book I would highly recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
"She was two years old when her mother dropped her into the shallow end of a lake...Delores Walker always claimed she had a vivid memory of this incident...Her body moved with the flow of it, the most natural thing in the world. From then on, the water was where Delores felt most at home." Thus begins the story of Delores Walker, a young girl from New York who leaves home to follow a dream.

On a family vacation to Florida, Delores is introduced to the world of real live mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs. She knows right away that this is what she wants to do with her life. But the realities of her dysfunctional family make the realization of that dream seem impossible until the day Delores discovers a stash of gold coins left behind by her estranged father. Using some of the coins to fund her trip to Florida, Delores sets out to join the ranks of the Weeki Wachee mermaids.

Carter has crafted a cast of characters who are as charming as they are eccentric. What gives this book its "just can't put it down" appeal is the way in which Carter intersects the lives (both past and present) of the girls of Weeki Wachee, a newsroom manager from nearby Tampa, the dysfunctional family members from the Bronx, and Thelma Foote, who runs the Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid attraction.

With careful attention to detail, Carter has incorporated some of the very real attractions and issues of central Florida during the 1970s. There are the rumbles of the economical impact of Walt Disney World on other nearby, smaller attractions. There is the strong desire to preserve the heritage of the area in such endeavors as the Mermaids of Weeki Wachee and the home base for circus acts, even a hurricane threatening the Tampa Bay area of the western gulf coast.
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Format: Hardcover

I was so excited to receive and read SWIM TO ME. As a kid, I can remember TV commercials featuring the mermaids and some of their antics!!! This memory was what caused me to be interested in SWIM TO ME. However, I was not too thrilled with this book. LOVED the cover!

The concept and idea of the book is GREAT -- set in the 70's, a young teenage girl flees her unhappy home in the Bronx, going to a happy place she remembers from her youth, the mermaid show in Florida.

Delores Walker is the teenager who runs away to become a mermaid. Her family life has fallen apart so she takes off. This book deals with her becoming a mermaid, her friends there, and her trying to reconnect with her mom, dad, and baby brother.

The book just seemed to be in a rut the entire time. Events, conversations, situations, never seemed to take off and go anywhere. While the idea was a good one, things just never jelled for me.

If you would like a sweet, not-to-deep little book to pass the time, this is the one for you. The mermaid sequences were interesting, but I never really cared about the characters or what happened to them. I just wanted to finish this so I could start on another book, which makes me feel awful.

Thank you for your time!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Swim to Me" was a pleasant escape, but unfortunately not as good as I'd hoped. The story has promise, but never really gets off the ground, sunk as it is by leaden prose. The characterizations are shallow, the setting not evoked as well as it could have been. Some conversations between characters seem natural, but others very much do not. For example, if you were reunited with a family member after two years apart would you sit silently while others in the room discuss business, never exchanging a word with your relative? Some vocabulary is used incorrectly, and the geography is often wrong. A hurricane comes into Tampa from the west, for example, then abruptly turns around and goes back into the Gulf of Mexico.

But what I did like about "Swim to Me" was that it made me remember childhood trips to Weeki Wachee in the 1970s, driving through Tampa and to Orlando. If all you want is a little nostalgia for old Florida, with low literary expectations, "Swim to Me" can fit the bill.
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