Nighttime Swimming Companion

Original publish date: 20 June 2014

I feel as if I reveal something about myself and my tastes in each an every post…as I should. So in that spirit, if something has to do with swimming, you can bet that I’m going to be interested in it, you know, because competitive swimming was my life for about 10 years. Keeping that in mind, I read The Twilight Swimmer by A.C. Kavich, for no reason other than the title–and I was pleasantly surprised by the story behind that title.

Brandi is a 16 year old girl living in a waterside New England town. She’s battling herself emotionally through an eating disorder and ruffles her family because of it, all of which likely stems from her older sister, Jenny’s, mysterious, watery death. Her sister’s death doesn’t keep Brandi away from the water, instead it still features prominently in her adventuring out at night in her kayak.

There is some standard high school intrigue of a romantic interest that confuses and embarrasses Brandi, some not so standard oddly flirty attention from a young deputy named Dallas, who just happened to know Jenny. And on a fateful night when her high school boy, Spider, takes Brandi to a party that goes awry with fire, she sees a powerful (and, to her surprise, naked) figure with haunting gray eyes who saves a girl from the fire and quickly escapes back to the water from whence he came. Thus the Swimmer enters the tale and consumes Brandi’s, sometimes rather angsty, thoughts.

Now, the Swimmer is an interesting character who is a mermaid…or merman…but with legs instead of a tail and he has gills on his throat. I was saddened to not have the Swimmer fully fleshed out as a character, to get to know him, his motivations, and most importantly WHY Brandi was so drawn to him–because, personally, the way he was presented in the text was more creepy than cute. The mythos behind the Swimmer as a being (or creature, if you prefer) was touched upon but not really fleshed out. Basically, when it comes to the Swimmer I’m left with a bunch of whys that go unanswered.

The other characters of the story were reasonably characterized and I felt an understanding of their drives with very little left to question, unlike the Swimmer. The ending of the story had a good twist that I didn’t fully anticipate consciously–and that is saying something as I watch far too many crime shows. In fact, I believe the word “wow” passed my lips after the last page.

Overall, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.


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