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April 20, 2018

Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr ~ A Review

by Donna Huber

A couple of weeks ago Susan reviewed Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr. When she gave me her review I had just started the book. I have to agree with her, it is a great novel.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Swimming Between the Worlds
April 2018; Berkely; 978-0425282731
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); historical
Although I don't usually like southern fiction, I was drawn to this book because it dealt with a period of history that I don't know much about. It is set in the decade before I was born, amidst the Civil Rights Movement. I know a bit about the time period due to documentaries and articles about Martin Luther King, Jr. I've even been to Ebenezer Baptist Church (I live in Georgia after all). I know about Rosa Parks, too. But that is about it.

Perhaps because North Carolina isn't in the deep south, the novel didn't have the feel that I associate with southern fiction. Instead, it felt more like an Appalachia region novel - like Christy by Catherine Marshall or Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe. It is definitely a coming-of-age story as three twenty-somethings must discover who they are and their place in the world during a time when a nation is fundamentally shifting.

The story is mostly about Kate and Tacker with Gaines being mostly on the periphery. His purpose as a character is to challenge Kate's and Tacker's beliefs and help the reader gauge Kate's and Tacker's perspective on the changing status quo. While he is an important catalyst in the story, I would have liked for him to have been more of a main character. As is, he is pretty one-dimensional and a bit stereotypical.

The light, carefree tone of the story seemed a bit antithetical to the upheaval that was sweeping the nation. Perhaps the riots were later than the time in which this story is set or maybe integration just went more smoothly in Winston-Salem. Swimming Between Worlds is not a gritty, intense novel. While there a few instances of violence in the story, I never felt true fear for any of the characters (except for when the cat went missing - I feared something nefarious happened to him). It is because of this lack of fear for the characters that I was totally unprepared for a particular scene near the end of the book.

If you enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, then you should read Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr.

Buy Swimming Between Worlds at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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