Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Night Swim by Jessica Keener

Here is the book description from Amazon:
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Kunitz lives in a posh, suburban world of 1970 Boston. From the outside, her parents' lifestyle appears enviable - a world defined by cocktail parties, expensive cars, and live-in maids to care for their children - but inside their five-bedroom house, all is not well for the Kunitz family. Coming home from school, Sarah finds her well-dressed, pill-popping mother lying disheveled on their living room couch. At night, to escape their parents' arguments, Sarah and her oldest brother, Peter, find solace in music, while her two younger brothers retreat to their rooms and imaginary lives. Any vestige of decorum and stability drains away when tragedy hits one terrible winter day. Soon after, their father, a self-absorbed, bombastic professor begins an affair with a younger colleague. Sarah, aggrieved, dives into two summer romances that lead to unforeseen consequences. In a story that will make you laugh and cry, Night Swim shows how a family, bound by heartache, learns to love again.

After reading Women in Bed, I really wanted to get my hands on Night Swim.  Keener is a fantastic writer, and this book did not disappoint.  Actually, it affected me so much more than I thought it would.  I was shocked at how right this book is.  This review is pretty much just going to focus on one thing, and that's how Sarah copes with her mother's sudden death.

Sarah is 16 when you mother dies, and much of the book deals with her feelings afterwards-at the funeral, at school later.  My dad passed away suddenly almost exactly 5 years ago today, when I was 19.  And this book.  It captures exactly what was often going through my brain after his death.

Sarah describes the mad dash to the hospital after her mother's accident, and how upon seeing her mother unconscious, sort of became numb and just stood there.

After her mother's death, Sarah and her family stay with an aunt and uncle for a few days, and family and friends come to pay their respects.  Sarah just wants to be along.  People constantly ask her how she is, thinking she'll break down, cry, whatever.

Page 90- "I think people expected me to cry openly but I didn't.  I was full of tears that surfaced only when I was alone.  I didn't want these people to feel satisfied by my pain."

It's not like these people were happy to see her cry or anything, it's just, so much attention is put on you and your loss that it almost starts to feel like people are waiting for you to start cring, and you really just don't want their pity.

Another thing-when Sarah goes back to school and it's very awkward because no one really knows what to say.  It was all so true, and I haven't read a book that captures these feelings so well.

So I'm very sorry if I just depressed all my readers, but this book wasn't intended to be depressing.  I was just excited to find a book that so described ME after my dad died.  A lot of my family members cried openly but I wasn't like that.  And finding Sarah was the same way (even though she's a fictional character) makes me feel good.  My review might make this book come across as depressing, but it's really about a girl coming to terms with her mother's death, and I thought it was wonderful.

Have you read Night Swim?  What did you think?

Title: Night Swim
Author: Jessica Keener
Date of Publication: 2012
Number of Pages: 284
Genre: Fiction
Source: Ebook from the Publisher

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