Night Swimming: YA Review

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Night Swimming by Steph Bowe
Paperback, 311 pages
Publication: April 3rd 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher
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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…


“In real life, there’s no such thing as happily ever after, there’s just life passing day by day. After you ride off into the sunset, then you’re just in the middle of nowhere on a horse at night, aren’t you?” – Oh Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, how I adored your Internal monologue.

The story follows 17-year-old Kirby Arrow, her bestie Clancy Lee and her pet goat Stanley as they navigate day to day life in the small town of Alberton. I read this book in one day! and that’s not the norm for me. It was delightful and easy to read. An adorable feel good romp about growing up, finding your inner strength and place in the world.

Kirby wants to stay in Alberton, much to her mother’s dismay. She is determined that nothing in her life will change. Kirby’s mother wants her to go off and explore the world, as she never had the opportunity to do so. Clancy wants to leave Alberton to pursue musical theatre, while his parents want him to work in the family restaurant. The besties may seem to be on different paths at first, but they are both just trying to balance their dreams with family expectations.

The arrival of Iris and her family, rising flood waters and the inevitability of growing up, all threaten Kirby and Clancy’s friendship. I really enjoyed the whole Kirby+Clancy+Iris dynamic. You know someone is going to get hurt, you know the ball is going to drop sooner or later, that the goat poo is going to hit the fan etc. etc.

There are plenty of high jinks between these pages but ultimately this is a heartwarming story about first love, true friendship and finding the courage to move forward.


Steph’s Links: Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Buy Links: Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

Night Swimming is a sweet story of coming of age, family and first requited love. There is a genuine-feeling desire in the story to see the good intentions in lightly sketched but complex characters, which gives the book a lot of heart. It will appeal to fans of realistic Australian YA and to readers searching for sweet and hopeful queer love stories.’ – Books + Publishing.

‘This bittersweet comedy of romantic misunderstanding, life management and family relations is poised at the emotional intersection between forgiveness and self-acceptance. Despite its whimsical tone, Night Swimming tackles serious themes of mental health, family upheaval and sexual coming-out with commendable delicacy and humanity.’ – Readings.

“The utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.” – Erin Gough.

“Night Swimming is a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex – it’s an ode to first times and best friends…but above all else, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst” – Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader.

Blog Tour: K My Name is Kendra

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kendra2017coverTitle: K My Name is Kendra

Author: Kamichi Jackson

Genre: Young Adult

Fifteen-year-old Kendra James’ life begins to spiral out of control with the return of her long-lost runaway sister Meisha, and the visit of a young celebrity uncle with questionable intentions. Things take a particular turn for the worse when that uncle exploits Kendra’s loneliness and untreated depression and makes a move on her that sends her world into a tailspin from which she’s not sure she’ll ever recover. Will she survive this tragedy…or will she hit rock-bottom before anyone even notices?

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Author Bio

In addition to K My Name Is Kendra, Kamichi Jackson is the author of an eBook entitled Where Present Meets Past (originally available as part of the now-defunct Amazon Shorts Program), the middle reader book You’re Too Much, Reggie Brown, a forthcoming adult novel entitled The Brownstone, two unproduced screenplays, and several short stories. KJ has made numerous appearances in support of her work, among them the Baltimore Book Festival. When not writing, Kamichi is likely off somewhere singing karaoke. The South Norwalk, Connecticut native currently resides in Northern Virginia with family.

* * BOOK EXCERPT * *

I think someone is stalking me.

I say this, not because I’m paranoid, but because I’ve been seeing the same strange car outside my house almost every other day for the past two weeks. I haven’t told anyone but Nita about it. She thinks I should call the police or something, but what are they going to do? Whoever is inside the car hasn’t done or said anything to me, so what would I be reporting?

Of course that could change. I realize that today when I step outside onto the front steps of my school. This could be the afternoon that changes everything.

“What’s wrong?” Nita asks as I stop dead in my tracks, almost tripping this kid walking on my heels.

There it is again. The same black car with the tinted windows. I recognize it right away because it has two small dents in the back door and a bright red ball on the tip of the antenna. I still can’t see who is inside, and I can’t tell if the person is even looking my way, but it’s definitely the same car.

“What’s wrong?” Nita asks again. She looks across the street. “Is that it?” she asks and I nod.

“I need to know,” I say as I step down off the curb. The car starts to move forward and I wave and scream for it to stop. It does, and I keep running towards it, even though I hear Nita yelling behind me that I shouldn’t go. She catches up to me and pulls on my sleeve, yanking me back before I reach the car.

“Even three-year-olds know not to talk to strangers, Kendra!” she warns. “Come on, girl. Let’s go.”

I know she’s right and I sigh, letting her lead me away. There’s a buzzing noise behind us as we’re walking, and I can tell the driver is opening the window now.

“Keep going!” Nita whispers, her grip on me getting tighter.

All of a sudden I hear my name called out from behind me. Nita and I both stop. She looks at me. We turn at the same time and step forward a little bit towards the car. I hear ding ding ding as the door opens, and a lady’s leg—rockin’ the fiercest thigh-high boot I think I’ve ever seen in my life—hits the pavement, and then the rest of the woman slides out from behind the wheel.

“Who are you?” Nita asks her, not letting go of my arm.

“My name is Meisha,” the young woman replies to Nita, but she’s not looking at her. She’s looking straight at me.

“She’s my sister,” I add, my voice so low I can barely hear myself saying the words.

PRAISE FOR KENDRA

“This emotionally powerful novel gets right to the essence of what a young adult novel should be, empathetically exploring the experience of a teenage girl. Kendra is dealing with depression, the social dynamics of the black community, family problems, and abuse, yet holding on to a core of optimism that will help her become a strong and successful adult. Kendra is the first member of her family to reconnect with her missing sister, Meisha, who ran away a decade earlier. Meisha’s return puts a strain on the family when the reason behind her departure is finally revealed. Kendra’s talent and strong desire to be a writer bring the attention of her English teacher, but this also leaves her vulnerable to her famous sports announcer uncle, CJ. Desperate for attention, Kendra ignores the warning signs; CJ gains her confidence and offers her a laptop to use in his apartment. The abuse that follows is not described in detail and is not the only defining point for the character. An excellent read for any girl who feels misunderstood, or for readers that remember what it felt like to be confused and hurt, but hopeful as they moved toward adulthood.”

–Publishers Weekly (as part of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition)

This book is for 15 year olds, parents of 15 year olds, friends of 15 year olds and for those who know a 15 year old. It touches on very real issues that young adults encounter and the conflict that ensues. This book is captivating and meaty yet an easy read. This is not your average, predictable young adult novel but a layered, well executed story that illicit illumination through the heavy darkness felt by depression. Well done!

–S. Jones (Amazon.com Customer Review)

Links: Website | Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon AU