ARC Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw



Publisher: Second Story Press
Release Date: 12 Sep 2017
Received From: netgalley

Two boys look to the water for escape, but for very different reasons.

Ryan finds his freedom in the water, where he is not bound by gravity and his wheelchair. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from the water their lives become connected, whether they like it or not. Ryan keeps Jack’s secret about that day in the water, but he knows that Jack needs help. The school is full of rumors about Jack’s sexuality, and he has few friends. Almost against his better judgement, Ryan decides to invite Jack on a trip to Comic Con he’s planned with his best friend Cody, the captain of the school’s swim team. The three boys make an unlikely combination, but they will each have the chance to show whether they are brave enough to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define them by.


GENDER:  cisgender
SEXUALITY: heterosexual, queer
PAIRING:  none


TROPES: accidental hero
TAGS: young adult, high school, queer
WARNINGS:  Slurs, bullying, attempted suicide, homophobia


I liked how Shaw created her characters- the main three developing in both different ways and different times. Especially Cody, I liked him the most out of the three. He went from the typical “jock” character to a somewhat of a cool guy. He’s got no filter sure, but his straight forward nature actually helped the other characters. and eventually he was the one saved Jack in the end.

Jeremy as a character was interesting. I loved Shaw’s take on cerebral palsy- it was factual and she obviously knew what she was talking about, granted she was a teacher and a special-needs helper for this reason. Also that he didn’t want peoples pity for him being in a wheelchair- he was him no matter what.

I feel like Shaw could have done much better for Jack as a character. He was nicely rounded and his emotions felt real for someone going through what he is experiencing, but I don’t think he got enough time on page to fully grow. He got the development he needed but there are still questions left unanswered.

I was excited by the plot of this book, but upon finishing it I have realized that it did not meet my expectations. It was good, but it could have been so much better. Jack’s coming out scene was too rushed and a lot more bonding could have happened at the Comic Con.




Liane Shaw is the author of several books for teens, including, Fostergirls, The Color of Silence, and Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell. Liane was an educator for more than 20 years. Now retired from teaching, Liane lives with her family in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario.





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