Troy Chance is on a ferry when she spots something fall from another ferry moving in the opposite direction. It could be anything, but Troy's intuition tells her it's a child. She dives into the water to find a small boy tied up in a sweatshirt left to drown. Freeing him from his binds, she swims back to shore and takes the French-speaking boy back to her home after deciding against the police station.
Communicating as best she can with the boy and researching missing children, Troy begins her search to discover exactly how this little boy ended up being tossed off a ferry in Lake Champlain.
LEARNING TO SWIM is Sara Henry's debut novel. She's created a suspenseful plot making good use of her settings in Vermont and Canada. The premise of a kidnapped and discarded child is one that builds the suspense as well as an emotional connection for the reader. Henry takes her protagonist and the reader on an impassioned journey full of potential suspects.
Henry's protagonist Troy Chance is a fun, original female protagonist. I found myself identifying with her in many ways, especially when she makes comments like
"To me this is the definitive gender difference - this and the Three Stooges. I hate wandering Home Depot searching for a particular screw or fixture, just as I have never found anything remotely funny about the Stooges."
Troy Chance doesn't have any amazing super powers and she isn't the "best" or "renowned" or "famous" anything. Instead, she could be your next door neighbor, your best friend, your sister. She has her doubts, her insecurities, her strengths and her abilities. For me as a reader, that makes her an interesting character I want to know. Her regular Jane development also makes some of the plot read a bit like a fairy tale over a suspense novel at times though. I doubt this will deter many readers, as it did not deter me.
There were places in the novel where I asked, "why would they do that?" or thought "this is a little more detail than is needed," but LEARNING TO SWIM is a debut novel that shows promise for great things to come from Sara Henry.
LEARNING TO SWIM is available now in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-307-71838-9) from Crown Publishers.