TLC Book Tour: Night Swim

Night Swim
Jessica Keener
Fiction Std
284 pages

I am an absolute sucker for coming of age novels. I’m not sure why that is exactly. I suppose I’m one of those pathetic souls that remembers my high school years as “the good old days”. I can’t imagine going back at this point in my life, but damn was it a blast while it lasted. So anyway, my point is that I am rarely disappointed with novels in this vein.

Sarah Kunitz is growing up in Boston decades ago. Her world is completely different than what I experienced during my formative years. Her daily ensemble consisted of a matching skirt and sweater set with knee socks and the cliques in the school caused a great divide. Sarah, a Jew, is classified along with the other teenagers of her faith, with the Italian kids causing problems and picking on their Jewish counterparts.

Sarah is not buffered my a strong home life. Her father is a literary professor and seems to be disconnected from his four children. Meanwhile, Sarah’s mother is a train wreck. Her passion was violin playing, which is no longer attainable due to her arthritis and, according to her, her children. Now she self medicates with alcohol and pills, which culminates in crashing her car into a local river after a cocktail party at their home.

As Night Swim went on, I realized that, despite the cultural differences between Sarah’s high school years and mine, I could still empathize with her situation and relate to what she went through. Despite her young age, Sarah was a logical thinker who seemed older than her years. At the same time, she still had a vulnerability that was overtly realistic.

I have to admit I can be nervous to read debut authors at times, because you’re flying blind. I had no idea what to expect and the last thing I wanted was for this novel to flop. Luckily, I need not have worried. I thought Keener had a fresh voice and Sarah’s character was one that resonated with me, which was unexpected.

About the Author, Jessica Keener:
Jessica Keener has been listed in The Pushcart Prize under “Outstanding Writers.” Her fiction has appeared most recently in:Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Night Train, and Wilderness House Literary Review. A recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Grant Program, and second prize in fiction from Redbook magazine, her feature articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, Design New England, O, The Oprah Magazine and other national publications. Night Swim is her first novel. Visit her website:, and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

12 Responses

  1. This sounds like one I’d like….and I remember wearing sweater sets and knee socks! lol

    I’m a sucker for dysfunctional family tales, a theme that is shining through in this one. Thanks for your review!

  2. This one is new to me. I really enjoy coming of age novels as well. I’m glad this one didn’t disappoint. Great review!

  3. For some reason I’m weird… I looove coming of age novels, but I am never that interested in starting them. Like I think they’re not my thing but every one that I read I fall in love with. Weird!

  4. I haven’t heard of this book before, but it sounds interesting enough to give it a try! I really like coming of age novels as well, and I like what you have to say about it. Great review on this one!

  5. There’s nothing pathetic about your views on high school! I would never go back, but I really enjoyed those years as well.

  6. It’s tricky to pick up a book from an untried author so I’m glad to see your gamble paid off in this case! Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  7. This is the second review I have seen on this one and they both have made me want to read it – sounds great!

  8. This one seems to be getting good reviews from everyone who’s read it. Will definitely have to add it to the wish list.

  9. […] January 10th: Books Like BreathingWednesday, January 11th: Elle Lit.Thursday, January 12th: Reviews by LolaFriday, January 13th: A Bookish Way of LifeTuesday, January 17th: Coffee and a Book ChickWednesday, […]

  10. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my debut. I’m grateful. Jessica

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