Sarah's Reviews > Swimming to Freedom

Swimming to Freedom by Robbie Michaels
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I was given a copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.

This is an angsty story of a competitive swimmer desperate to find a life for himself beyond his father’s control. It is also the story of Brandon growing into himself and coming to terms with his sexuality.

Both Brandon and Tyler feel more like character outlines than actual characters. Even though Brandon tells this story, I don’t feel like I got to know much about his hopes, motivations, or emotions. He’s sweet and good and conflicted but he just never really came to life for me. Similarly, Tyler shows up in Brandon’s life as an instant boyfriend. We don’t see much romance or feel much chemistry between the two boys.

My favourite character is probably Joel - Brandon’s swim team friend. It’s Joel who first guesses Brandon’s orientation and Joel who does his best to make life easier for his friend. He’s funny and cocky and possibly the only character with any real personality in the story.

This is a heavy book. Brandon’s father is almost a caricature - he’s a pushy sports dad and he’s controlling, domineering and homophobic. He’s a pretty roughly crafted villain and we don’t ever glimpse his humanity and we never get a real explanation for his behaviour.

This story feels like the old school YA writing I remember from my own youth. It’s a topical story with fairly one dimensional adults who are either bad or good and slightly bland teenagers who are keen to do ‘the right thing’. The language is clean, Tyler and Brandon’s physical intimacy is completely off page and the happy ending comes way too easily. For me, the simplicity of the story feels a bit patronising. There have been so many brilliant YA books in the past few years where the boundaries between YA and adult fiction are blurred and the teenage experience is written about in realistic shades of grey. As a result, I have pretty high expectations for contemporary m/m YA writing and this book just didn’t work for me.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 21, 2017 – Shelved

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