The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

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BN synopsis: Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty. Coming from a family with a literal skeleton in their closet, she’s developed this talent all her life, whether helping her willful mother to smooth over the reality of her family’s ugly past, or elevating humble scraps of unwanted fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts.

Her sister Thalia, an impoverished “Actress” with a capital A, is her opposite, and prides herself in exposing the lurid truth lurking behind life’s everyday niceties. And while Laurel’s life was neatly on track, a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in lovely suburban Victorianna, everything she holds dear is thrown into question the night she is visited by an apparition in her bedroom. The ghost appears to be her 14-year-old neighbor Molly Dufresne, and when Laurel follows this ghost , she finds the real Molly floating lifeless in her swimming pool. While the community writes the tragedy off as a suicide, Laurel can’t. Reluctantly enlisting Thalia’s aid, Laurel sets out on a life-altering investigation that triggers startling revelations about her own guarded past, the truth about her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

Holy cow(slip), what a story! Ok, that’s a lame joke that you’ll get if you read the book. With The Girl Who Stopped Swimming Joshilyn Jackson shows why she’s one of the most imaginative writers out there today.

I’m not a mystery lover per se, but give me atmosphere and some teetering-on-the-brink-of-crazy characters, I’ll just have to find out “whodunit”. It was a page-turner, to be sure. The second half of the book had me riveted to my chair and didn’t release me until I finished reading the last page. I know I’ll be thinking about it for quite some time and I look forward to Jackson’s next book (soon, please). If she’s a new author to you, in addition to this book, I recommend Gods In Alabama.

The trade paperback publish date is May 26, 2009

Thanks to Valerie Russo and Hachette Book Group for sending the book for review.

gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

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The back of the book pretty much explains it all:
When Lena Fleet went to college, she promised God she would stop fornicating with every boy she met, never tell another lie and never, ever go back to her hometown in Alabama. All she wanted from Him in return was to make sure the body was never found…
Ten years later, Lena’s demons are catching up with her. Her high school arch-enemy is looking for the golden-haired god who disappeared during their senior year. Her African-American boyfriend has given her an ultimatum : introduce him to the lily-white family she left behind, or he’s gone.
While she’d rather burn up in a fire than let him meet steel magnolia Aunt Florence and the rest of her eccentric, racist family, Lena knows it is time to head home and confront her past once and for all…
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While the alternating chapters of the present and the past isn’t usually my favorite format, I found Jackson made it work. Her writing and storytelling are so smooth. I really enjoyed this book.