Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Swimming Sweet Arrow” as Want to Read:
Swimming Sweet Arrow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Swimming Sweet Arrow

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  499 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Here's what they never tell you about being a girl....

Close friends since the days when they used to cut school and go swimming in Sweet Arrow Lake, Vangie Raybuck and June Keel are high school seniors out to have fun. That means dope, booze, and fooling around with their boyfriends, Del and Ray--sometimes in the same car at the same time. They work together at Noecker's c
Published December 19th 2009 by Back Bay Books (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Swimming Sweet Arrow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Swimming Sweet Arrow

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
God, I loved this book when I first read it. Still do, as a matter of fact.

Yeah, yeah to the pearl-clutchers who call it "vile" and "pornographic" (you must be SO much fun to hang out with!) just because the main character is a girl who actually enjoys sex! GASP HORROR SHOCK.

The tale of Vangie growing up and eventually, growing apart from those she once held dear, really hit my heart. It's one of the more realistic depictions of sex - in all its messiness - that I've ever read, and the dirty fun
Feb 02, 2011 Christie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maureen Gibbon’s novel, Swimming Sweet Arrow, is something of a surprise. The first surprise might be the very graphic sex. But the second surprise will most definitely be how affecting the novel’s narrator, 18 year old Vangie, is.

“When I was eighteen, I went parking with my boyfriend Del, my best friend June, and her boyfriend Del. What I mean is that June fucked Ray and I fucked Del in the same car, at the same time.”

Gibbon establishes Vangie’s voice- at once innocent and experienced- from the
Lisa A. Fraser
Feb 05, 2013 Lisa A. Fraser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I see folks saying how this book is pornographic and that the protagonist has no respect for herself but it only highlights what a lot of teenagers do & what a lot of them go through. Now whether you think that's unfortunate or not it's a matter of opinion.

Personally, I couldn't put this book down. I read it from start to finish in one sitting. It's real, it's raw, and the pace is good.

I like how in the end she finds herself and is strong enough to know what decision needs to be made. It on
(This is a personal review.) I think I underrated this book for personal reasons. The writing was fine and the story was fine, but it hit too close to home and became painful to read. I've been in that car with my best friend doing those same things and I grew up with boys who belong in this story. A few years ago (in my teens), I might have loved it. I would have thought, "Hey, here is a book about people like me!". But, when I read it now I think, "Hey, here is a book about people I used to kn ...more
Jul 14, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.

There are so many elements to this book, and it's something I need to mull over for a while, but I couldn't put it down.

I was hesitant to read because I disliked "Thief" by the same author. I found that book boring and crude with the main characters loathsome (and not in a good way).

But this book was intense. It was crude and honest and honestly crude. It was vile and dirty without making me feel dirty for reading it. Not smutty or erotic, just a story of young love, sexuali
Dec 11, 2008 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a shockingly disturbing depiction of a white trash girl with zero respect for herself. It was pornographic and just vile. The only brief moment of relief came at the end when Vangie FINALLY left her repulsive boyfriend. This book was extremely graphic and not recommended for anyone under 21 and try not to eat right before you read it. This author has some serious issues to even think stuff like this up!!!
Benjamin Chandler
I'd read all the reviews that said this book was sex-loaded and raunchy, but didn't really believe them. But, the other reviewers were right—this book does talk about sex a lot. Like most-of-the-book a lot.

But it's not erotic, per se, or even pornographic. It's just very, very frank. The narrator is a visceral person. She's really just a body, completely in tune with sensations. Everything she describes or experiences is physical. From work to getting high to sex. In fact, it's easy to think of
Jessica Weil
Feb 10, 2016 Jessica Weil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that takes a long time to really hit you. That's not to say that it's a slow read; it's not. It's just that the depth of it hits hard and all at once. At least that's how it was for me.

In the tradition of literary minimalism and dirty realism, Gibbon presents us with a coming-of-age story centered on Vangie Raybuck, a teenage girl living in a poor rural town in an indeterminate decade. There's no way to dance around this so I'll just say it: this book is incredibly sm
Leo Jacobowitz
Jan 10, 2008 Leo Jacobowitz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is a debut book - a good one. Is it just me or do you too love sex, violence and rednecks? This book is basically Penthouse Forum, with a powerfully feminist core - even chicks with woolly knee socks open them at some point I guess. The sex scenes are delicious and nutritious. "It was on that dank, steamy night that I met two amputee cheerleaders....." ;) Wait, that was the penthouse.....
★¸. • * ° * ༺*Blanka*༺*°°*•.¸. ♥★

Vangie Rayburn spends most of her last year of school doing drugs and having sex with her boyfriend Del. Her big dream is to graduate, move in with Del, and have lots of sex. Vangie and her best friend like to boast that they are "young and dumb and full of come." Vangie is plagued by the usual litany of problems: abusive boyfriend with drug and alcohol problems, meaningless jobs, absent parents, troubled best friend.
May 18, 2011 Elinor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A criminally underrated book that explores female sexuality with no squeamishness whatsoever. Rhythmic, hypnotic, brutal and beautifully poetic. So many more people should read Maureen Gibbon, she's a true stylist and writes the kind of prose you can't tear yourself away from. Stunning.
Mar 20, 2008 Jenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First dirty book I have ever read. I loved it.
Oct 17, 2016 Lisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Library Read: I would recommend this as a library pickup.
I think this would have worked better as a short story - it would have been a bit more impactful since I felt that the story was repetitive with no plot, it just went on in the same sorry state. There was little to no character development, everyone felt one dimensional. It was graphic but so much so that by the half way point, I became de-sensitized to all the sex scenes. All I kept thinking while I was reading was that it would be comple
Jessica P
Dec 31, 2016 Jessica P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stick through and read it to the end and you won't be disappointed. I personally thought the character was obsessed with sex a little too much for my taste, but given the turn of events I'm happy with how the ending turned out as well as how much the character grew and matured. The authors writing was understandable and she is able to tell a story very well without having to repeat herself or use cliche metaphors.
Feb 05, 2014 E.p. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot going on in this book and anyone who calls it vile, pornographic, or sexist clearly grew up in a privileged home with sexually repressed parents and are probably still sexually repressed themselves.

I really appreciated the truth of this book. The book opens with something like " the truth about girls that no one talks about". True fact, teenage girls like sex! They have a lot of it, they are exploring their bodies and developing into what they will become as adults. The sex in th
Jan 09, 2010 HeavyReader rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I picked this book up at a thrift store because I needed something to read. The back cover caught my attention with its promise of sex.

The writing was accessible, and by that I mean I could have read this book when I was in 6th grade. Reading this book was no challenge, and I sure didn't need a dictionary close by because there were no new words to learn.

There was a lot of sex. Good sex. Bad sex. Violent sex. Infidelity. Sex the narrator regretted. Sex that probably should not have happened. But
i read this years ago (it had to be like 10 years ago now that i think of it), and remember being delighted by the frequent and graphic sex that happens pretty early on. it was such a surprise, especially since i only grabbed this book because the cover was pretty.

as i read on through the actual story, i grew to dislike the narrator. a lot. the only reason i remember this book so well is because it's the first time i really remember being disgusted by such a weak excuse for a woman. when i was
Jun 23, 2011 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Swimming Sweet Arrow was written by my ninth-grade English teacher, Ms. Gibbon. She was working on it when I was her student. It didn't come out till after I graduated high school and I eventually read it while applying for graduate school. I don't know a ton of novelists (do most people?) and it's really fun having been taught literary criticism and creative writing by someone, and then getting a chance to read her own work later on.

This is a coming-of-age novel about small town kids with littl
Don Hackett
Jul 12, 2016 Don Hackett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first-person story of a young woman's life, the end of high school and the beginning of work in dead-end town. The focus is her sexual experiences and her first time living with a man, and her relationships with her (female) best friend. Her language in describing sex is very explicit but without dirty words or romantic euphemisms; a major theme is sex as relationship--how far up openness, honesty, and tenderness, how far down numbness, cheating, and brutality, can take you. The book begins ...more
Carolyn Stanley
I am by far not a prude and of course I didn't mind the graphic parts (which is 90% of the story and what the 2 stars are for) but I was waiting for some substance in this book. I thought the characters were poorly developed and went nowhere. The main character Vangie at one point says something about the truck her dad gave her "even if it did have 87,000 miles" made my head spin. How do you feel sorry for someone who says that? At 17/18 I think my used car had 162,000 miles on it. And while sti ...more
WOW! What a story! Rough living, hard life lessons, heartbreaking relationship realities in the young lives of 2 gal pals & their boyfriends. Can't say that I enjoyed the abundance of the rough language & explicit sexual acts but realized quickly how necessary all of this was to set the personalities, class level & mood of this story.
Unlike many other reviewers, I did like the characters after I began reading between the lines. I came away from this story learning that each of us ex
Jun 03, 2011 Patricia rated it liked it
WARNING...the most explicit sex I have ever read... some of you reading this probably have had your share of early sexual experiences, but be prepared to be shocked at some of the situations and positions this 18-year old protagonist, Vangie, gets herself into. After all the rough sex and demeaning and humiliating experiences with her boyfriend and other men, it all comes down to a young girl not really knowing how to grow into a healthy young woman and stand her ground and set limits for others ...more
Aug 20, 2007 Loren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vangie is a graduating high school senior who just wants to make it through the day so that she can fuck her boyfriend, Del. That's how good it is. They move in together and work various jobs and do it and fight and do it some more. Then everything suddenly goes wrong in the kind of way that would only happen in some backwoods town where no one has gone away to college.

This book has some of the best sex scenes I've ever read. Sex scenes are hard to do right, without being too gratuitously filth
Sally Whitehead
This is my first re-read in many years as I rarely read the same book twice. I first read this many years ago and it takes me back to my favourite old literary haunt of small town America, coming of age novels.

Unlike many coming-of-age novels though there is no bittersweet here, no "Wonder Years" moment of sudden clarity; it's a raw, vivid (frequently sexually graphic, and certainly not for the faint hearted) depiction of a bored, bright but unambitious small town girl's sexual awakening. It's
Mar 29, 2011 Amber rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2011, reviewed
Waaay too much description in the sex scenes for me, thanks. As I was reading this book, I kept thinking what would this book be like without all of the sex scenes? Really there wouldn't be much else. I think the author could have done a lot with the plot if she wasn't so focused on sex. I'm interested in reading other books by this author only just to see if she is capable of writing anything else.
Aug 28, 2014 Bruno rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In de Nederlandse literatuur zouden we dat waarschijnlijk als een naturalistische/deterministische roman bestempelen. De beschrijvingen zijn rauw maar neutraal, en ondanks de toch behoorlijk grimmige uitzichten blijft de lezer hoopvol in de toekomst voor het hoofdpersonnage. Er zit nogal wat seks in dit boek, maar alles is zeer functioneel en toepasselijk voor het verhaal. Een onterecht onbekend werk, zeker de moeite van het lezen!
Aug 16, 2007 Recynd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it, fiction
This book was a surprise...I wasn't expecting it to be so sexed up!

I loved the working-class protagonist and the way she struggled with insights and self-reflection; I am rarely aware of my own feelings towards particular characters, but in this case, I couldn't help BUT respect Vangie.

Memorable, and even a little shocking in its graphic focus on sex (personally, I don't think it hurts us at all to be a teensy bit shocked sometimes); I'm grateful I stumbled upon this one.
Aug 08, 2008 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
Another warning. This book is VERY explicit. I didn't see that coming.

I have mixed feelings about this book. First off I loved that it was short, only 205 pages. Made it a quick read. The story line was good. I really loved the main character and I love the ending. Did it need so much graphic sex?? I'm not sure. Maybe the characters wouldn't of been who they were without it. If you can handle explicit sex in a book, I'd say read it.
Josie Cook
Oct 30, 2014 Josie Cook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing write about hard young lives and absent parents. A brave, exciting, and detailed novel that includes candor between the characters and their shared experiences as the storyline unfolds.

The ending was a little unexpected for me and weaker than most of the storyline.

However, for a first book, it was unexpected and exposing to read about how these characters grew up and related to each other. I didn't think it would include such detail and real life scenes.

Aug 09, 2013 M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this about ten years ago (where does the time go?). I remembered it being quite a harsh, startling read (it is - the graphic sex is far from erotic). It read a little 'softer' the second time around, maybe because time has either softened me, or the book. Either way, it's not for everyone, but I enjoyed it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays
  • The Chocolate Money
  • Without You
  • Little Known Facts
  • The Cityscape Series (The Cityscape, #1-3)
  • Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles
  • A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That: A Novel
  • Almost Innocent
  • I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Interviews
  • The Astor Orphan: A Memoir
  • My Drowning
  • Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery
  • Diana: Portrait of a Princess
  • An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris
  • The Adults
  • My 1980s and Other Essays
  • Valley Fever
  • Driftwood
Maureen Gibbon is the author of Paris Red and two previous novels. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the New York Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Playboy, Byliner, and elsewhere. She lives in Park Rapids, Minnesota.
More about Maureen Gibbon...

Share This Book