4.21.2008

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming




Joshilyn Jackson is hilarious, and she has a unique way of putting things. One of her, self-professed, favorite things to do is to refer to long titles or phrases using their acronyms. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is either Swimming or TGWSS, pronounced tog-wiss. Makes sense to me: it would be rather cumbersome to constantly refer to a book in progress as The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. That's just a mouthful.


But it's not cumbersome to read, that's for sure.


Laurel Hawthorne has a perfect life - perfect house, perfect husband, perfect daughter. One thing isn't perfect, though. She sees ghosts. When the ghost of Molly Dufresne, the girl next door, visits her one night asking her to come to the Hawthorne's pool, Laurel looks in panic to see Molly's lifeless body floating in the water. The police want to say it's an accident, but her daughter Shelby is acting weird, and her daughter's friend, Bett Clemmons, isn't saying anything. Did Shelby see something, or, more frightening, was Shelby involved? Laurel must pierce the facade of her perfect life to uncover the mystery of the Molly's death. As she follows the path to it's nail-biting conclusion, Laurel learns a thing or two about family and the price of perfection.


In this novel, the characters leap off the page, and the suspense surrounding the mysterious death of the girl next door will keep you riveted to the end. Thalia, Laurel's sister, is the most interesting character. Her derisive wit and bulldog attitude is engrossing, not to mention downright hilarious. Jackson has a keen sense for pacing, and the story never lags. Like with all good mysteries, it's difficult to foresee the conclusion. This is a great novel to read when your toes are all sandy at the beach or to escape the tedium of whatever ails you at the moment. Tog-wiss was my first introduction to Jackson, but I have Gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia on my shelf waiting for some attention. They won't have to wait long.

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