When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.
Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?
As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.
Sissy: Learning to Swim has layers of backstory, memories, and tragedies, and it was quite engaging–I read it in a couple of days and was kept up at night trying to make sure I had everything straight in my head (that is a slow pitch to you, Bubby).
Bubby: Oh, the possibilities! Should I make a snarky comment on your age and the effect thereupon your brain? Or say something about my infinitely greater mental capacities? I can’t decide! I’ll just let this one go – call it an early birthday present. I had a hard time getting into the story of Learning to Swim. It came off as the typical YA summer romance novel. There was some teenage drinking among the rich and fabulous set, some Romeo and Juliet-type issues with the rich girl and the “townie” boy and all the accompanying angst that one would expect. However. The story started dragging me in. Before I knew it, I actually cared about these people and their lives. The thing that pulled me in most was Mrs. O’Leary and her stories. I figured out who (or should I say what) she was pretty early on and it just got better from there.
Sissy: I truly felt bad for Cora. Her parents are garishly nouveau rich and want her to have the right friends and the right college and they are willing to pull whatever strings they can to get her those things. Cora hates the shallow set of rich teens and has no clue what she wants to do with her life other than backpacking through Europe. There is such a lack of communication between her and her parents. I just don’t get it. Would parents really choose an arrogant, lazy party boy for their daughter just because he is rich?
Bubby: Our dad would have! Remember John M.? I think we’ve mentioned him before… I too was amazed by this. Even after Cora reveals that all Mr. Richie Rich wanted from her was to “get in her pants”, her parents still favored him. Stupid, stupid. I love how Cora has so little interest in the rich teenagers that she can’t even be bothered to remember most of their names – two of the girls are simply Blondie and the bimbo. She ends up regretting her reverse prejudice later on, though. But you’ll have to read the book to find out why and with whom!
Sissy: My favorite character was Mrs. O’Leary. She is a complex individual who cannot be labeled as good or bad. The Irish folklore she introduces is fascinating, but full of riddles and hidden meanings. Mrs. O’Leary, known as Lia (short for Cordelia) by the townsfolk, has episodes of warmth and lucidity mixed with outright lunacy.
Bubby: Sounds like you!
Sissy: I knew you were going to say that, but I was also going to say that it reminds me of myself. So there. Just because you’re in control of the keyboard you think you can steal my mad thoughts and write them as your own!
Bubby: I try, but then you smack me. I have the bruises to prove it! Just kidding. Once you know more about Lia’s history, everything she says makes perfect sense. Don’t you think?
Sissy: Yes, that was what I was going to say before you hijacked the blog.
Sissy: Poor baby. Maybe you’ll behave better next time. So Learning To Swim left me with all kinds of questions. We don’t know exactly who is who and what belongs to whom and we don’t even know when book two is coming out. We are hoping Annie Cosby will shed some light on that soon.
Bubby: Way to be cryptic, Sissy. But it’s true. I read the last page and kept looking for another page, one that would keep the story going. But it’s just a classic cliffhanger. I, for one, want more! 3.75 bubbles from me.
Sissy: I give it 4 bubbles.
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© Bubble Bath Books 2014