Release Date: June 22, 2018
Received From: Review requested by the author
Angels Can’t Swim is an original, honest coming-of-age novella that examines what goes on behind the scenes for three college swimmers. Jenna, Maggie, and Eden are each incredibly different in their personalities and struggles, yet under pressure they must come together in this compelling story of friendship and what it means to be a good teammate. While balancing the pressures of swimming at a high level and also dealing with the realities of college life, the three young women grow immensely as individual people and in their bonds with each other. In portraying these bonds, the novella tackles important issues such as eating disorders and what it means to be an LGBTQ young person. This intense, unforgettable novella is a must-read for young adults, college students, and all people who wish to take a glimpse into a world not often seen.
SEXUALITY: lesbian, heterosexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: homoromantic, heterosexual
TROPES: teacher x student
TAGS: new adult, contemporary, coming of age, queer characters, sports, female friendship
WARNINGS: eating disorder (bulimia), mental illness (depression), internalized homophobia, religion (Christianity), underage drinking, vomiting, bingeing and purging, cheating, blackmail, ableism, power imbalance, emotional abuse, therapy, nonbinary exclusionary language, pregnancy, rape, nonconsensual activity
This story had so much potential as it has the bones of a great coming of age story about female friendship and finding yourself in different aspects of your life.
Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the potential, largely because of editing issues and the overall length of the story. To start, the writing, while not terrible, is clunky and needs a lot of editing. Overall, the novel consists of short, jerky sentences, many of which could be combined in order to create a bit more grammatically creative content. Alongside that, the whole novel is basically just little sections of information dumps. There’s no real action or narration, just “this happened, then this happened, then she said this, and then this happened.” Honestly, the feeling I had as I read was that I was listening to a five year old recount a story in simple sentences rather than reading a novel written by an adult.
Also, the dialogue isn’t even marked as dialogue. There are no quotation marks or other punctuation used in order to indicate that you’re reading something meant to convey speech, until you get to the end of the sentence and it says something like “she said.” What made the dialogue more difficult to comprehend in certain places, was the fact that the narration hops heads from paragraph to paragraph. Not to mention, it frequently shifts from third person point of view to an omniscient point of view, with absolutely no lead in or tie in.
Finally, the story was unnecessarily repetitive, which was another strike against the short length. A story that tackles such complex issues as eating disorders, lack of consent, unexpected pregnancy, and struggling with queer identity needs to be much longer than the 100 pages this one contains in order to address them with any kind of complexity. As the book stands, it really just reads like a list of things that have happened in the girls’ lives, without any further exploration as to how that has really affected them and the rest of their lives. As I said, the book had potential, as it deals with some really important issues, but it just falls flat in every aspect.
Alexandra McCann is a newly published author.
She loves to swim, hike, read, and hang out with friends and family. Angels Can’t Swim is her first published work.