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Swim Back to Me by Ann Packer

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads
From Ann Packer, author of the New York Times best-selling novels The Dive from Clausen’s Pier and Songs Without Words, a collection of burnished, emotionally searing stories, framed by two unforgettable linked narratives that express the transformation of a single family over the course of a lifetime.

A wife struggles to make sense of her husband’s sudden disappearance. A mother mourns her teenage son through the music collection he left behind. A woman shepherds her estranged parents through her brother’s wedding and reflects on the year her family collapsed. A young man comes to grips with the joy—and vulnerability—of fatherhood. And, in the masterly opening novella, two teenagers from very different families forge a sustaining friendship, only to discover the disruptive and unsettling power of sex.

Ann Packer is one of our most talented archivists of family life, with its hidden crevasses and unforeseeable perils, and in these stories she explores the moral predicaments that define our social and emotional lives, the frailty of ordinary grace, and the ways in which we are shattered and remade by loss. With Swim Back to Me, she delivers shimmering psychological precision, unfailing intelligence, and page-turning drama: her most enticing work yet.

The View:

Just like most of you, I prefer novels to short stories but I am exploring new things each day and “Swim Back to Me” was one of the many little experiments I have been putting myself through. This book in unique in that it is a collection of short stories with such diversified emotions, characters and plots.

I enjoyed all the stories but my favorites will have to be MOLTEN and FIRSTBORN. They both dealt and portrayed differently the love of a mother. In Molten, a mother grieves the death of her teenage son by relishing the songs that he once listened too. In Firstborn, a couple are expecting their first child and during one of the classes she reveals that she had a son already who died at five months. The rest of the story is about how she cherishes the moments of her first child but is still brimming with excitement for the birth of her next.

The rest of the stories had their own winning points and each of the characters stood out as prominent, well thought-off, independent yet complex personalities. Faced with dilemmas, anger, betrayal, grief, love and a whole lot other emotions; they all reacted just as you and I would but yet coped with it as the situation demanded. With as much realism in the plot as with the characters each of these stories are a class apart.

Rated a 4 on 5.  I will keep an eye for this author as Ann Packer has a unique style of writing that pays great attention to detail while continuing to focus on the overall picture.



One Response

  1. I’m wondering after reading your wonderful review whether I should have read this book of stories instead of listen to it when I drove back home. I felt like I didn’t connect to the voices and it made it hard to connect to the stories. How ridiculous does that sound?! Maybe I’ll read it now.

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