Book Reviews of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
ISBN-13: 9780446579650
ISBN-10: 0446579653
Publication Date: 3/4/2008
Pages: 288
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.

3.7 stars, based on 91 ratings
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

32 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Meh. The mother finds a friend of her daughter floating in the pool. Whodoneit?

The answer to this question is really a subplot to the book, which is more about family secrets and escaping your past.

Some of the characters in the book annoyed me to no end. The aunt, the mom, the poor family, etc. The ending was ridiculous to a major degree. When someone turns homicidal for a reason that makes little sense, it sucks the fun out of a book, for sure.

Off to read something better!
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 92 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
This was a hard book to put down. Yes, it's a "mystery", but I would call this more of a "literary mystery." It has many elements of literary fiction with a fantastic mystery at its heart. A little bit of mysticism, a love story, a story about how the people we love build us up or let us down. This book just has so many interesting layers without being cofusing or jumbled. I highly recommend this book!
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
For me, this book was one of Jackson's better efforts. It started slowly for the first fifty pages, but once the story framework was set up, I could not put it down. This is one of the more fulfilling stories Jackson has told. The characters are full, quirky and she makes us understand where each of them: Laurel, Thalia, David, and Laurel's mother, end up where they do in life and how that effects Laurel. The town of Delop could be one of several in Alabama and it's description is chillingly realistic. For me... I'm going to stick my neck out and see this is her best book yet.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Reading The Girl Who Stopped Swimming was akin to drinking a tall glass of Sweet Ice Tea on the porch of an antebellum mansion. A uniquely Southern experience that is both warm and inviting, but also wholly unfamiliar (at least to this non-Southerner). In the end, however, I wanted to visit a little longer with sisters Laurel and Thalia.

Jackson's prose at times seems like another language. For example, the novel frequently referred to characters entering or exiting the keeping room. While I now know that my house has one too I had never heard this term before reading this novel. Rather than detracting from the novel these unfamiliar terms drew me in deeper in the way that one listens closer to a speaker who whispers rather than shouts.

Jackson's characters were, for the most part, vividly depicted and leaped off the page. This was especially true of the characters Laurel and Thalia whose relationship propels many of the plot points. While Laurel and Thalia love and support each other, they do not understand many of the choices the other as made. As Thalia mutters, "Some days I wonder how you don't drive hard into a wall, just to make it stop."

Another aspect that I enjoyed were the references to the character Cowslip from the novel Watership Down. While I have not read Watership Down, it is now on my reading list thanks to Jackson. If you are in a book group I would recommend reading the two novels together for an interesting discussion.

The only part of the novel that I found less than fulfilling was the ending. I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say that it seemed too tidy of an ending. I would have preferred a more Thalia envisioned ending -- messy, yet, engaging. However, a lot of readers will probably enjoy the ending.

Overall, I highly enjoyed the The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and would recommend it for a thought provoking summer read.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 239 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Okay, first let me say that does not have this book yet and it's making me crazy. I even checked and they don't have any of the other authors books on their site anymore. I don't really listen to CDs, so this is driving me nuts! I always listen to her books while I'm walking. *grump*

Okay... I'll stop ranting now...

This is not my favorite book by this author. The story was good, but I felt like it was missing some of the more crazy characters that Jackson is known for. It is definitely worth a read, don't get me wrong - but I just kept waiting for the nutball characters to show up. They were all a little crazy, but there wasn't those one or two that were just completely nuts, ya know?

This definitely was pretty deep and I honestly didn't see the little twist at the end coming. My favorite book by this author was Between, Georgia and my favorite audiobook was Gods In Alabama. This book comes in 3rd. I wouldn't know about the audiobook since audible DOESN'T HAVE IT YET. Not that I'm bitter.

But... read it. It's still good, it was just different from what I was expecting :)
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Overall this was a good book, great ending, quite a surprise. But I do think it was not as good as Joshilyn Jackson's other two books, Gods in Alabama and Between Georgia. There were a lot of reasons I didn't like this book as much as I thought I was going to, I think that the characters weren't as likable and I didn't quite understand their actions. It was boring a little in the middle too.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 85 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Joshilyn Jackson's third novel The Girl who Stopped Swimming is about a family who is trying to ignore the ghost of their past until a new one shows up in their swimming pool.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as I did the first two. The only reason I finished this one is because I knew how much I loved her other two. So I kept reading and finally started liking the book about page 170.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 239 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I've read and listened to all 3 of Ms. Jackson's book. Reading wise, this one came in third. But comes in second on audio for me. I really wish they would get the person that read the first one to read her books. I realize she probably likes doing it herself, the author, but the first one was the perfect for her style of writing. Having said that, you can tell she has practiced a bit more, a little more relaxed. It kept my attention and I did catch a few things that I didn't while reading it, which is unusual. Definitely worth a listen. Great author that has come into her own.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 121 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Story Overview
Laurel Hawthorne is haunted by ghosts. During her childhood, she is haunted by her Uncle Marty. But Marty disappeared when Laurel and her husband David moved into the gated community of Victorianna. But one night, Laurel -- a lifelong sleepwalker -- is awakened by another ghost. This time the ghost is Molly -- a neighborhood girl and a friend of her daughter Shelby. Molly's ghost is brand-new -- in fact, her body is floating in Laurel's swimming pool.

Although Molly's death is ruled an accident, Laurel cannot help but think that Molly's ghost wants her to uncover what happened to her. Worse, her daughter Shelby is acting like she might know more than she lets on. And Bet Clemmens -- a relation of Laurel's who has come to visit with Shelby for the summer (a way for Laurel to make peace with her poverty-stricken roots of DeLop) -- seems to be helping Shelby cover something up.

Laurel's computer geek husband David is no help in a crisis like this. So Laurel turns to the only person she knows can help -- her estranged sister Thalia. Thalia is a larger-than-life, straight-talking actress (she has her own rundown theater) who views Laurel's marriage as a jail, and her home in the gated community as the prison cell. Against David's wishes, Laurel brings Thalia home with her to help find out what happened to Molly. In the course of their investigation, the skeletons in their family closet begin to rattle their bones, Laurel's marriage is shaken to its core, and the sister's relationship is redefined and pushed to its limits.

My Thoughts
I loved this book! The story flies along with numerous twists and turns, and the characters -- especially Thalia -- are wonderfully written and memorable. The supernatural aspects of the story are well-handled. Much like Alice Hoffman (who brings a kind of magic realism to so many of her books), Jackson is able to work in the ghosts in a believable and plausible way. You believe in what Laurel sees, but you also find yourself nodding your head when Thalia debunks Laurel's ghost stories.

Although the primary story is finding out what happened to Molly, much of the book is really about Laurel and Thalia coming to terms with their childhood, their mother, what happened to Uncle Marty, and their mother's hometown of DeLop. DeLop -- a fictional town -- is almost like a character in the book. The poverty and neglect that the town spawns affects everyone who comes in contact with it -- whether they admit it or not. Laurel -- who has tried to hide the reality of DeLop from David and Shelby -- must finally come clean with herself about what is going on there.

Another rich subplot is David and Laurel's marriage. Thalia has always made it her mission to end the marriage -- which she believes is holding Laurel back from being her "true" self. When Laurel begins to doubt the strength of her marriage, the author does a wonderful and believable job of showing why a marriage that looks "all wrong" on the outside might actually work at its core.

I could go on and on about all the rich details in this book -- Laurel's quilts, the social niceties of a gated community, the use of the book Watership Down (which this book totally made me want to read!). I think Joshilyn Jackson did an amazing job with all aspects of this book. Bravo!

My Final Recommendation
This is a satisfying, fun and rich read. Once you start, you'll get pulled into the story -- so be prepared to dedicate some time to finish it up as you'll want to know what happens sooner rather than later! I just adored Thalia, who I think added some needed humor to what is really a fairly grim and depressing story. This was a great read, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the first book I've read by Joshilyn Jackson. I really enjoyed her writing style and the development of both the characters and the story.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 8 more book reviews
This is a GREAT book!! You will not be able to put it down!
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 9 more book reviews
At first I didn't think I'd like this book, but being a Joshilyn Jackson fan, I ordered it. I'm glad I did. It wasn't anything I expected in a good way. I'm a fan of southern lit and this one didn't disappoint. I read this book in a day and a half mostly lying in bed with a book light. Some parts I had to stifle laughing out loud so I wouldn't wake my sleeping husband! This is a must read for any southern lit or Jackson fan.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 3 more book reviews
This book is different from what I usually read, but I loved it.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 50 more book reviews
This book was totally different from what I was expecting but I enjoyed it and could not wait to finish it.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 27 more book reviews
There were parts that I enjoyed, but then other times I found my self driving with my jaw open. I couldn't connect to any of the characters. I feel like some of the character's actions were swept under the rug, and that's just not acceptable to me. I could tell Jackson had a good message she wanted to deliver, but I think she fell short. I finished it though, and it wasn't complete torture to finish it, so three stars it is.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 12 more book reviews
This book was such a beautiful example of the "McMansion" communities that we see or live in every day and the not-so-perfect group of people that live there. It's a potent reminder that if a person escapes from a difficult background, they have an obligation to give hope and an opportunity to others. It deals with family relationships and the consequences of judging others. Overall a terrific and insightful book!
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 29 more book reviews
I really liked this audio. I have never read, nor listened to this author before, but I have to say that she did a wonderful job narrating her own book. Her depiction and focus on detail with each character was wonderful. I always get "iffy" about an audio during the very beginning of the first cd, however, I am glad I continued to listen because I could not stop before too long!
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 4 more book reviews
I really didn't like this book. The characters were not likeable and I hated the goofy "caper-like" exploits woven in to a disturbing story
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 44 more book reviews
This book, in addition to being somewhat formulaic (sort of one of the Lifetime Channel formulae), there are a few places in the story where the ethics exhibited by major characters are disturbing because they are let lie as if they are OK. For instance, when the main characters do a home invasion in the home of someone they suspect is a pedophile when the daughter goes missing, they proceed to threaten blackmail (he is found in bed with one of their married neighbors--he isn't a pedophile) if he reports them for what is, in fact, breaking and entering. The implication is that adultery is the worse crime. If that is a spoiler paragraph, so be it--readers are entitled to know when this level of dreck is reached.

In addition to that, there is a "ghost" and "supernatural" thing going on that is very immature and kind of stupid, IMO. and adds nothing to the plot except to make one wonder what the author was thinking to feel that was a good way to go.

The writer has several themes going on--adult survivors of possible sexual abuse, murder of the abuser relative when the main characters (sisters) were youngsters, a mother who is limited because she survived a childhood in a squalid, violent slummy Southern town. The people speak like ignorant cretins from deep in the backwoods, and there aren't any who rise above scum of the Earth--except, of course, the protagonists.

All in all it was a distasteful effort. I haven't read anything else by this author, and now probably won't.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 8 more book reviews
I thought i would love this book when i first picked it up..the beginning sounded so intriguing..and then it kind of changed into a "let's find out who did this crime" book, not a book about the ghost from her past coming back to haunt her. It left some unfinished ideas and some characters I felt were kind of undeveloped...maybe others will see it differently, but I felt a little let down.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 204 more book reviews
This is a murder mystery set in the Florida panhandle, which is essentially Alabama -- deep South. The main character is Laurel Hawthorne, a mother and wife. She has a tendency to see ghosts, and as the story is beginning she sees the ghost of a young teen who is a close friend of her daughter Shelby. Laurel then finds this girl floating dead in her backyard swimming pool. Other primary characters are her husband, David, who she knew in high school and who she married after becoming pregnant, and their young teen daughter, Shelby. The drowning appears to be accidental, but Laurel has doubts, and she and her crazy (drama queen) sister Thalia begin to investigate.

While this story is essentially a murder mystery, it is also a story about poverty, how poverty affects lives very profoundly, and how having been raised in poverty affects a person's life long after they have left that life.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 4 more book reviews
Suprisingly good story, held my interest. Got murky in it's direction, but it's light reading.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 106 more book reviews
This started a bit slowly for me, but about chapter 7, it picked up and I was hooked. It didn't have the laugh out loud moments that "gods in Alabama" did, but I loved the connections between Laurels art quilts and her life and those of the other characters. I found the characters well-devloped and likeable each in their own way. Since we all have events in our lives that we keep replaying in some way, I appreciate authors who develop their characters in a similar vein, and this tale does that beautifully. I'm ordering Between, Georgia right now!
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on
I read this after reading "gods in Alabama." If you enjoy Southern fiction this is the author for you.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 151 more book reviews
One night, the ghost of Molly Dufresne, came to Laurel's bedroom and lead her to her drowned body in the family swimming pool. Laurel Hawthorne and her husband, David, live with their daughter, Shelby, in the closed-gate community of Victorianna.

Molly is a neighbor and one of Shelby friends. But Molly wasn't supposed to be over because Bet Clemmons, a relative of Laurel's from the poverty stricken, mining town of DeLop, is spending two weeks with her.

The police suspect Shelby or Bet, but Laurel thinks it might be their strange bachelor neighbor who she knows she caught a glimpse of in the crowd that gathered outside their home that evening. She suspects him because he doesn't live near them and she believes he would only be there if he'd caused the girl to drown.

The police rule Molly's death an accident, but Laurel doesn't believe it is. She enlists the help of her estranged sister, Thalia, an actress married to a gay man. She has to mend the breach between herself and her sister to get her help and goes against her husband's wishes to bring Thalia to their home to help.

Together they unravel the mystery of how Molly came to drown in the Hawthorne's swimming pool and how things are never what they seem.

There are all sorts of little mysteries in this story.

Laurel is from poverty stricken DeLop and she does not allow her daughter to go to DeLop â even for the annual trip to take holiday gifts and food to the relatives there. Shelby really wishes to go on these trips, but Laurel's only acquiescence on this is to allow her to develop a relationship with Bet. Laurel's unwillingness to embrace her connection to DeLop leads to the drowning.

The gated community of Victorianna also leads to the drowning. Most people in the neighborhood are not aware that Molly's family is falling apart. Her mother is drunk most of the time and her parents constantly fight, In fact, just before she drowns, her father has filed for divorce.

And there's the strange bachelor who's moved into the home of his mother after her death. He doesn't have a job and takes regular jogs through the neighbor wearing skimpy shorts and no shirt. Laurel is sure that he is some sort of predator and has warned her daughter away from ever going into his home.

Her sister, Thalia, is certain that her marriage to David is a farce and that Laurel cannot possibly be truly happy with her life. She agrees to help her sister resolve the drowning mystery, but at the same time she also wants to prove to Laurel that she has a miserable life with David. She even takes Laurel to a fancy restaurant where David is having lunch with a work colleague who obviously sees more to the relationship than just work. But does David see their relationship the same way?

Laurel is certain that she's been doing everything she can to protect and raise her daughter and be a good wife, but has she been? Should she listen to Thalia â a woman with a fake marriage (afterall her husband is gay) â or should she do like her mother â ignore her DeLop roots and do her best to disconnect except for the supposed works of charity at Christmas?

I really enjoyed this book. It has some good plot twists and the ending was a bit of surprise.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 63 more book reviews
What a GREAT book!! It pulled me in and kept my attention.
I was surprised at the ending. Had no clue what was to happen.
The characters were involving and the pace of the book was perfect.
I absolutely hated the book to end. :)
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 114 more book reviews
I enjoyed this story about a young woman dealing with a tragedy. The relationship between the sisters was very interesting. There were many different underlying stories that were connected in some way during the story. I was a little disappointed with the ending. It seemed a little too "hollywood".
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 231 more book reviews
This started out a slow for me, but once it got cranking it was great. It's more of a "who done it" with a lot of twist - didn't see it coming. Good southern atmosphere and just a little creepy.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 68 more book reviews
It was my first time to read this author. Still deciding how I felt about it. I found this book to take an odd approach. I didn't find it to be so much a mystery more as and awakening. I'm not disappointed that I read it. I will give the author another try.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 237 more book reviews
Loved this book! Joshilyn Jackson never disappoints! She really gets to the heart of the matter, so to speak. Her books are filled with real life events and so much more!
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on
Love Joshilyn Jackson books. Love any books set in the South. This book did not disappoint.
reviewed The Girl Who Stopped Swimming on + 39 more book reviews
Good read