Becky's Reviews > Learning to Swim

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
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's review
Aug 19, 2012

it was ok
Read in August, 2012

I was so disappointed by this book. I really thought I would love it. I like mysteries enough that even the bad ones generally entertain me, and this one had Amazon reviewers gushing things like "best debut novel I've ever read." But, as I read it, I just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Here's why:

First, as a mystery, this book lets you down all over the place. Here's the premise: a woman jumps off a ferry to save a little boy she sees falling from another ferry—she doesn't know who he is or how he came to be pitched off the ferry. About 80% of that mystery is solved in the first quarter of the book. The protagonist then spends the next two quarters of the book studiously avoiding solving the rest of the mystery. She seems bizarrely lacking in curiosity. As a reader who wanted the mystery solved, I at first felt frustrated and later incredibly bored. I slogged through the huge, boring middle section of the book where nothing happens because I really wanted to know why people loved this book so much. The mystery is finally fully solved by the end of the book, but I'll warn you: you're going to be rolling your eyes when it happens.

Second, as writing, this book is simply awful in places. I read on a Kindle, and usually I underline passages I really like. In this book, I was moved to underline passages I really hated. Here's an example: "The default Windows setting hides doc, exe, pdf, jpg, and other file extensions, which I think is insane." MAYBE I could forgive this sentence if it was incredibly important to the plot that the protagonist has oddly strong feelings about file extensions on Windows, but it doesn't figure into the plot at all. Here's another gem: "He smiled at me, and I swear I felt my heart move. Cliches exist for a reason." Note to author: just because you admit it's a cliche before anyone calls you on it does not make it good writing.

As I look back over the Amazon reviews to try to understand what people were thinking when they gave this book five stars, I see that the NYT book review called it "the perfect romantic suspense mystery for people who won't admit they read romantic suspense mysteries." This might be my problem with the book. I absolutely hate romance in my books and my movies. I guess the romance is what was happening during the 50% of the book where it felt to me like nothing was happening. Because I absolutely don't care if the main character finds the exact right dress to wear on her dream date with Richie Rich. If you do care, you would probably like this book more than I did, although none of the romance in the book ever really goes anywhere.

Sometimes, thinking back about a book makes me like it more than I did when I was reading it. In this case, it's the opposite. I've given it two stars because something hooked me enough that I managed to finish the book, but I'm really annoyed that I got duped by all the great reviews into reading a stupid love story that was only barely a mystery. Will be more careful in the future.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Paula Beck Couldn't agree with you more, Becky. I was increasingly annoyed at Troy as the book went on. So smug about all she knew about computers, much of which sounded wrong to me. But like you said. Who cares?

Paula Beck Couldn't agree with you more, Becky. I was increasingly annoyed at Troy as the book went on. So smug about all she knew about computers, much of which sounded wrong to me. But like you said. Who cares?

message 3: by Tom (new) - rated it 1 star

Tom Potter Glad I found your review. I'm 50 pages in and I'm already bored. The writing is mediocre. Thank you.

Anie Excellent review. I completely agree. And what on earth is a "romance mystery"? That's a new one to me. Sounds like something I will avoid in the future, though.

Gina my thoughts exactly. promising start, boring middle, and eye rolling end.

Joyce Agreed! Annoyed is the exactly my feelings as I read this book. If you are having trouble sleeping, read this. Asleep in no time.

message 7: by Wendy (new)

Wendy thanks for ur review...I'll avoid it

message 8: by Christy (new)

Christy Clemins-mccumbers I was about to read this book until I read your review! Soon as I seen the words "Romantic Mystery" I was over it! Thanks for your review and saving my time!!!

Ginger Johnson I got annoyed with all the descriptions about her meals.....

Cheryl Dolan Wish I read your review before I wasted time on the book.

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