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Swim That Rock

Review

Swim That Rock

written by Jay Primiano, illustrated by John Rocco

Ever since his father went missing at sea, nothing has been going well for 14-year-old Jake Cole. His family's diner on Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island will be repossessed unless Jake's mother can pay off a 10,000 dollar loan.  But Jake's mom has given up on the diner --- and the possibility that his father is alive.  Jake still has hope that his father is living, and he does not want to abandon him by losing the diner and moving to Arizona to live with his grandmother. Under the instructions of his father's old friends, Jake begins to make money in any way he can, even when the work is dangerous and questionable.  At times Jake doubts that he can save the diner, but with the support of his friends, Tommy and Darcy, he keeps on working.

This coming-of-age story focuses on Jake's interactions with his friends and the local clammers. Most of the characters are dynamic and well-described, but a few of the most intriguing characters, like Jake's father's friend, Captain, are never fully explained.  Jake is relatable and realistic, but he does not stand out in my mind as particularly memorable.  The friendship between Jake, Tommy and Darcy is well written, and it is one of the best parts of SWIM THAT ROCK.  

A quick read that will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy fast-paced realistic fiction and nautical themes.     

SWIM THAT ROCK contains plenty of action.  At times this makes the plot feel rushed, and the author provides limited information regarding the setting or characters' thoughts.  In the opening pages of the book, there is an action scene.  This is a great hook, but it left me slightly confused and waiting for background information.  These pockets of action are strange in comparison to the parts of SWIM THAT ROCK that are dedicated to describing quahogging or to building character relationships, but it was good to have variation in the structure of the book.

Since Jake is often doing sea-related jobs to raise funds for the diner, much of SWIM THAT ROCK is set in the water.  The land surrounding Narragansett Bay or the bay itself were not described in much detail, and since I have never seen a place like Narragansett Bay, I had trouble imagining it.  The map at the beginning of the book did not help me visualize the scenes.  The authors describe the methods of quahogging and the equipment needed to clam, but it was hard to understand these descriptions without any prior knowledge on my part.  However, I was able to picture a quahogger's life outside of the water.

The plot of SWIM THAT ROCK is predictable.  The ending did not surprise me as this is one of those books where a certain ending has to happen.  The way that the end result happened, however, felt rushed.  SWIM THAT ROCK is a quick read that will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy fast-paced realistic fiction and nautical themes.     

Reviewed by Rachel B., Teen Board Member on April 9, 2014

Swim That Rock
written by Jay Primiano, illustrated by John Rocco

  • Publication Date: April 8, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763669059
  • ISBN-13: 9780763669058