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Learning to Swim
Ann Turner
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Learning to Swim

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  281 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Ann Turner's lyrical Learning to Swim will resonate with any adult or teenager who knows the shame and confusion of sexual molestation. Her memories of a family summer vacation keep coming back "like a skunk dog / on the porch / whining to get in." For Turner, telling her story to the world is what sets that skunk dog running. Divided into three sections, "sailing," "sinki ...more
Unknown Binding, 113 pages
Published 2002 by Scholastic Signature (first published 2000)
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"These poems are a testimony to the healing power of words," writes Ann Turner of her memoir Learning to Swim in which she details a summer from her youth through concise, evocative poetic verse. A summer of willowware plates, blueberry bushes, and a dark and painful secret. Each snippet is tinged with childish action and adult hidesight, a 20/20 perspective on a murky, helpless moment in the author's life. Memoir is a wrenching, vulnerable, cathartic endeavor, done in an attempt to make sense a ...more
Nov 14, 2009 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Summary and Analysis:

Learning to Swim is a novel told in verse that would be appropriate for high school students. Learning to Swim was on the Young Adult Library Services Association's list of best books for YA in 2001.

Although Learning to Swim is full of poetry, it is also a memoir because it is about experiences from the author's own life. Learning to Swim is set up in three sections: sailing, sinking, and swimming. In the first section, sailing, the poems describe, in first person point of
This book was a beautiful memoir in poetry. It tells the story of a young girl, Annie, that is sexually abused during a summer and feels that she has to keep it a secret. The pain, resentment, anger, and shame expressed in the poems feels very real. The narrative also includes how Annie learns to swim. She is afraid of swimming without her pink tube, but eventually learns to swim. Her mother finds out about what has been going on and keeps Annie safe for the rest of the book. She is able t
Nov 24, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
I went into this book knowing nothing about its subject matter and was surprised to find what I did. I always find it interesting when an author chooses to use verse of some kind when writing a novel. There is so much an author can do with word play. Turner's use of verse gives the narrative a choppy feel, a frenetic energy in places, and a foggy recollection and horror at other times. It is just vague enough communicate a child's reticence to give details about sexual abuse but enough details t ...more
Sep 04, 2014 Molly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Learning to Swim is a touching story about a young girl named Annie. Annie was only 6 when the horrid thing happened. It was in Annie’s room and her neighbor threatened to hurt her if she told. All Annie wants to do is keep it a secret, she tries to keep it off her mind. She wants to learn to swim without her pink floaty tube. Eventually her mother finds out and tries to keep her inside for the rest of the book. This is why I think you should read Learning to Swim of you like tragic and happy bo ...more
Beautiful and sad. Memories can be so painful.
Ellie F
Mar 20, 2017 Ellie F rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 09, 2009 Margo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-420
Genre: Poetry/Child molestation (poetry requirement)

This book of poems follows the summer of a little girl as her life changes forever. While learning to swim in the pond, a boy in the neighborhood takes her upstairs to read to her but instead sexually molests her. She does not know what to do and does not know that she can say no. It is not until the molestation is discovered that her mother promises that nothing will ever happen to her again of that nature; however, the damage is done and she
Jan 27, 2017 Gabriela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Learning How to Swim by Ann Turner is a realistic fiction book. Six year old Annie's life is shattered after she is forced to carry a horrible secret. An older boy molested her when she visited her friend’s house for a play date, and she was forced to keep it a secret. Annie is the main character in this story and she is trying to keep a secret from her parents. While Annie was playing with her friend her friend's brother convinced her to go inside the shed. This is the day Annie's life changed ...more
Dec 18, 2008 jacky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to jacky by: students VM and SK
Shelves: poetry, 2008, lib-lahs
I had the libraian help me pull a bunch of books that are poetry, but tell a story; she called them poetry fiction. This book was one of them. A student read this during our 20 minute reading time one day, then her friend quickly checked it out to read. This speed and enthusiasm peeked my interest.

I really liked this book, as much as you can like a book about child abuse. The poet portrays the child's voice (really her voice as a child) very well with talk of crayons and dolls, but also the saf
Feb 09, 2016 Wynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was an OK book, I am not the biggest fan of poetry books, but I could understand this one. I thought that the plot line was an interesting topic as I have a cabin of my own and understood what the author was saying about how the windows creak and groan when you open them for the first time since winter and how everything is covered in a layer of dust. I found it very sweet how close she was to her dad and he grandpa and how she gradually grew closer to her mother as a result ...more
Nov 25, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 8th grade and up
Shelves: nonfiction
This is one that hasn't circulated, but I decided not to weed it. I think it is lost on the shelves (YA 362.76, a place no one goes except for the Dave Pelzer books [shudder]); it's a memoir in verse that is short and powerful, telling of the author's survival of a neighbor's sexual abuse one summer when she was too young to know she could say no. The fact that it is true gives it even more resonance; as it says in About the Author, "By taking something so painful and transforming it into words, ...more
Dec 10, 2013 Selina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
VERSE REQUIREMENT: This memoir told in verse tells the personal story of a young girl who is being sexually abused by a neighbor boy in conjunction with her father teaching her to swim. It's well told, and I think it captures the innocence of childhood caught in a nightmare that never should have happened. Thankfully, her parents find out at the end and respond appropriately to the situation.

While I can admire the honesty and poetics of this memoir, I didn't love it. For example, if I had it on
Oct 03, 2014 Tristan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, ya, childrens
This book was sort if "meh". It isn't that is bad, exactly, or that is has noticeable flaws in the style or tone, just that it didn't really resonate with me. I thought the poems were fair to middling, not bad, but never great. Of course the pain is real, and well portrayed, but the poems also feel like they were written many years after the fact. This would be fine, because they were, but in places the immediacy of Annie's terrible pain seemed lost. A worthwhile read, but not one I would read a ...more
Eva Leger
Eh. Seems like she's trying to be like Hopkins or Sones. And failing IMO. I wouldn't hand this to anyone male or older than preteen. That leaves out a lot of readers.
I don't think I've ever read a faster book. I lit a cigarette when I started this book and I was finished the book first. And I'm not talking about some super long, spage-age, blunt like cigarette. A regular Newport.
Not really worth the $4.99 it states it costs on the back if you ask me. There are much better books to be read.....
Michelle Walker
Dec 09, 2010 Michelle Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of poetry for a YA audience. I just love poetry, all the books I have read this semester that were written in free-verse or poetic form were in my top favorites. I just love it. A compelling read--its a memoir of Turner's life and I love how intimate and personal it is. It reminded me of some of my own childhood.
Learning to Swim is a poetry memoir about the author being sexually abused by a young neighbor while she is at her family’s summer home. This book handles the difficult topic very well. A good book for tweens and teens that strikes home the message that you should tell a trusted adult if something bad is happening to you.
Brittanyy :)
i have learned that summer isn't always the best time in the world for everyone. i also learned that learning how to swim for younger kids is a big step in life. i also learned that sharing secrets/problems with someone really close is the best thing to do because they could give you some great advice or help you out alot.
Aug 25, 2010 Brandi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didnt know what this book was about before i started reading it. I only picked it up because it was a novel in verse(i think thats what its called) and i really like these kinds of books. This book was very quick to read and i read it in one sitting. It was interesting and well written. I reccommend it for people who like novels in verse.
Jul 05, 2013 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very powerful book. It takes only a few minutes to read but it will stay with you for a long time.

The poems lead us through the struggle of a young girl who has been molested as she tries to deal with what is happening to her. Her struggle to let others know and eventually her attempt to heal. Beautifully written and a true testament to the authors bravery.
Kate Brown
Aug 08, 2014 Kate Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
A truly powerful and heartbreaking memoir about sexual abuse. The book is written in verse and tells the story of how Annie was abused one summer at her family's vacation home. The difficult topic is handled appropriately for school and students are able to sympathize with the author and the horror she went through.
Jul 18, 2010 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
A tender and touching book. It is a memoir of the author's abuse at the hands of a neighbor boy when she was about 6 or 7 years old. As the back cover says, it is "a brave and beautiful book, full of sadness and truths."
It's short, written in expressive and poignant poetry. It's recommended for ages 13 and up, and I agree with that. It's not for young children.
Mar 24, 2009 Love rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These short poems about what happened to the author as a child are heart breaking. You can feel the pain and sadness she felt in her words. Such a short book but so worth the wait I had for it! Easily read by a youth, but earth shaking sadness as and adult reader. I also think it would encourage children who have been hurt to speak up about their own story. A must read!
Nov 16, 2010 Rokeya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot. This book was so sad to me. I just wanted to strangle some of the characters. It made me so angry about what was going on with Annie. It made me angry that she didn't say anything at all. You learn a lot from these narrative poems that tell the story. The story is full of sadness and suspense. The moral you can learn is stand up , don't just stay quiet.
Logan Wolf
This book was very well written and had a great story of overcoming fear. I gave this book 2 stars because poetry is not my favorite. It was a pretty short read but a very dark story that a girl had to learn to say no and cope with her new fear.
May 06, 2007 Alexis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, poetry
I'm starting to shy away from memoirs told in verse; the poetry doesn't seem to hold its own. You can't take the individual poems out of the whole, and I'm not sure if I should be bothered by that or not. The story is wonderful, however.
May 03, 2014 Devvy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
a light read and the message behind it is really nice. However it could have been a bit longer and more emotional imo. But overall, I would say to read it for anyone who feels like they are trapped and needs to find an escape.
Mar 30, 2009 Stacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's sad how Anie is getting abused by Nick. This is like all the other books that I've read. Where there's always a kid getting sexually abused or being hit by their parents. I ask myself why this little girl so innocent has to get abused by a family member.
Dec 04, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
such a quick medium for such a painful subject. the message is so touching i wish i could direct this to students who need to read how important it is to talk about everything with people they trust.
Leah Longnecker
Nov 18, 2015 Leah Longnecker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was pretty good. Although I am not a huge fan of poetry, this was a somewhat inspiring book and it kept me wanting to read it. If you're not a big fan of poetry I would recommend this book because it is short and sweet, but still has a good plot to it.
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oooohhhh snap! 1 6 Jan 28, 2010 04:42PM  
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Ann Warren Turner is a children's author and a poet.
Ann Turner wrote her first story when she was eight years old. It was about a dragon and a dwarf named Puckity. She still uses that story when she talks to students about writing, to show them that they too have stories worth telling.
Turner has always loved to write, but at first she was afraid she couldn't make a living doing it. So she trained
More about Ann Turner...

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“At night I dream of swimming, my arms move smoothly through the water it is so easy, so calm.” 3 likes
“I have a knife in my hand, slicing beef on the willowware plate, and I cut harder, faster, thinking it is your pink neck under my blade and I am cutting you into little pieces that I will bury in the meadow outside when there is no moon.” 3 likes
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