Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Book Review)

January 28, 2012 Adult Fiction, Book Review 5 ★★★★★

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Book Review)Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
Series: Troy Chance #1
Published by Broadway Books on February 22, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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5 Stars
“If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water.”

When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore with a tiny passenger on her back.

Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He’ll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he’s resolutely mute.

Troy assumes that Paul’s frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul as she is to find out what happened to him. What she uncovers will take her into a world of wealth and privilege and heedless self-indulgence—a world in which the murder of a child is not unthinkable. She’ll need skill and courage to survive and protect her charge and herself.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to read a good mystery. The first author I ever loved was Mary Higgins-Clark. Her mysteries made me fall in love with the genre, and I’ve been seeking out good ones ever since. When this book popped up in an e-mail to The Broke and The Bookish, I jumped at the chance to read it. It sounded so intriguing, and exciting. Picture this… you’re on a ferry, it’s crispy cold outside, and in the distance you see a bundle thrown off the back of another ferry at the exact moment you pass it. It could have been trash, right? Or a hoodie that blew off the deck. But no, you just can’t shake the feeling that it is so much worse than that. Without thinking you, not even a very good swimmer, jump into the frigid Lake Champlain and make a beeline for the diminishing ripples in the water where the mysterious bundle hit moments before. As you frantically search the murky waters around you, your eyes meet the eyes of a scared, drowning little boy. You grab him, swim a grueling one-mile swim, hoping to avoid the hypothermia creeping into your very bones, and pull him to the rocky shore. He’s not breathing, so you try to remember the CPR lesson you had a LONG time ago. You succeed. He’s breathing. As his eyes open, he looks at you, lets out a little sigh, rests his sleepy head on your arm, and murmurs, “Merci.”

This is what happens to small town newspaper journalist, Troy, on the way to visit her boyfriend. She scoops the little French-speaking guy up, runs to her car, warms him up, and tries to push away the fact that someone tried to murder this little boy. Using her very limited education in French, she learns from him that his name is Paul, he’s 6, he was kidnapped, and they killed his mom. Rather than turning him over to the police, she assumes the role of temporary mother and takes him home with her. As she learns more about him, she begins to search for his father, investigate the horrible kidnapping on her own, and finds a special place in her heart for him. The more searching she does, the more dangerous her simple life in Lake Placid becomes. She can’t let go, though. She has to know that Paul is safe, and she will do anything in her power to ensure he is.

OH MAN, right? I was hooked from the first line, “If I’d blinked, I would have missed it.” It totally sucked me in, and I read the entire thing on the way home from vacation. I really do love long car rides sometimes. No obligations but reading. The story was so unique. A six-year-old is not usually the most important character in a book, but Paul was definitely the star. He is incredibly sweet, impeccably well behaved, and cute as a button. I fell in love with this little guy, so I can totally understand why Troy did too. And yes, her name is Troy. It threw me for a while, but then I got used to it.

I really like Troy. She lives in Lake Placid with several men that rent rooms from her during high season. She’s one of the guys, but in a feminine way. They respect her, and she’s kind of like a mom to them even though they’re about her age. She has a brother who is a police officer in Florida, and she calls on him when she needs help. I loved reading about the process she went through to dig out information. She’s smart, brave, daring, fearless, and very likeable. I enjoyed reading her story (especially her bond with Paul, his dad, and their housekeeper), and she’s a great heroine who doesn’t whine when life gets tough.

The guys she lives with are hilarious. They act like stereotypical college athletes. Troy can’t keep food in the house, they have all kinds of funny things to say, and they really are just big softies. I really liked them. They were concerned about Troy, and were always willing to help her if she needed them.

The story was gripping, to say the least. The mystery was not a fast-paced as some I’ve read, but that actually made the story more believable to me. Troy ran into some snags, everyone was in some danger… but just enough to make it real. Some mysteries seem a bit too far-fetched to be taken seriously. This story could have happened. I am SO excited for the next book! Go buy this one. You’ll love it.

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5 Responses to “Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Book Review)”

  1. Estelle

    I think it is so HILARIOUS you started off with a Mary Higgins reference because I just wrote a review (that will be up in Feb) and it started the same way. haha.

    Great review! I’m not much of a mystery reader but it’s always nice to have other options when you get tired of reading the same thing all the time.

    Happy Monday! xo

  2. Jana

    Haha. Estelle, that’s pretty funny! I loved MH-C growing up, and usually read only her stuff. Now I read maybe one book of hers a year (she always comes out with a new one before I end up traveling somewhere). I’ve found so many other authors to read now!

    Thanks for visiting! Happy Monday to you too!

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