The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

The Girl Who Stopped SwimmingThe Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
Published by Hachette Audio

Laurel’s perfect, innocent existence is shattered when the ghost of her 13-year-old neighbor Molly shows up in her bedroom one night. The ghost takes Laurel to the physical Molly, dead in Laurel’s pool. Molly’s death is a mystery that shakes Laurel’s perfect life – with her husband David and daughter Shelby – to the core. She enlists the help of her crazy sister Thalia to solve the mystery, and this brings back painful memories from Laurel’s past, causing truths about her life she’d rather have kept hidden float to the surface.

This is my third experience with Joshilyn Jackson’s books, and every time I read one I feel like I don’t have enough adjectives to explain how much I truly love her novels. While I’m not sure that The Girl Who Stopped Swimming will be my favorite Jackson novel, I really, really enjoyed it. Her characters – as always – are full to bursting of Southern charm, the plot contains a mystery seeped in family secrets, and the resolution is complete without being too neat and tidy.

I love Jackson’s heroines because they are always flawed but totally lovable, and Laurel is no different. She prefers to ignore the ugliness and difficult things in her past and in her life, and because of that she’s built a pretty stable wall around her daughter Shelby and around her marriage to her husband David. But the second her family comes into town – her mother and sister especially – it all goes to hell and she has to struggle to keep her perfect life intact. I felt for Laurel because it was obvious the intense love she had for Shelby and her intention was to give her this beautiful, perfect life that Laurel didn’t get, but at the same time she was doing it at the expense of sharing with Shelby what the real world has to offer. I think it’s always important to teach children the truth – at age-appropriate times of course – and Laurel was so intent on shielding her from the bad things in life that she wasn’t being truthful with Shelby. I loved watching Laurel understand this, slowly, as the plot thickened over the course of the novel.

I didn’t love the plot and resolution of the mystery in The Girl Who Stopped Swimming as much as I have with Jackson’s other novels, but a Jackson plot I don’t love is comparable to some other author’s plot I do love. What I mean to say is – it still was awesome, just not AS awesome as some of her other books. And I love that Jackson isn’t afraid to tackle Issues, but she always does it with a lighthearted touch. In this case, it’s poverty and drug addiction, and while both are difficult topics to cover in a novel as funny as this one, Jackson completely pulls it off. The ending manages to convey a message while also being funny and heartwarming.

Joshilyn Jackson is great! Read her books. Oh, and as always, I listened to The Girl Who Stopped Swimming in audio because Jackson narrates her audios herself. And she is fantastic at doing that. If you are an audio person, her books are not to be missed. And if you are not an audio person, read them in print!

10 thoughts on “The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson”

  1. I think if someone held a gun to my head, I would say that my favorite JJ book is either her latest or Gods in Alabama, but that is love in the most stratospheric sense. All her other books I love too. I am always amazed at how she tackles really tough issues…the WORST issues…but still keeps her sense of humor. A couple of things stood out to me in this one. First, was the quilt-making. Such a nice detail! And Uncle Poot’s ghost foot. How the HELL does she come up with this stuff?

  2. I don’t remember this one very well but I remember I liked it. I just finished Grown Up Kind of Pretty last night and I think the next book of hers I read (between, georgia or backseat saints) will be on audio!

  3. I now plan to listen to all her books. I just love listening to her talk!!! Thanks for thr review Heather

  4. I need to read this one, as well as Backseat Saints. Her stories always keep me on the edge of my seat, and after having met her, I can see how her real life energy just makes it way right on to the page. I am going to request this one from the library, and hopefully get to it soon. It sounds like there is a lot here to love. Fantastic review today, Heather!

  5. I loved this book, but it’s first of Jackson’s that I’ve read. Her others are definitely on my TBR list now!

  6. I’ve read and loved each book that I read by this author as well. This wasn’t my favorite of the three that I’ve read but I still really enjoyed it. She is one of my MUST read authors. I’m glad to hear that you enjoy her books as much as I do

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