But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the other ferry. It could have been a bundle of trash; it could have been a child-size doll. Either was more likely than what I thought I saw: a small wide‑eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment as it plummeted toward the water.
Sara J. Henry's debut novel, LEARNING TO SWIM begins with a bang. Or rather, a couple of splashes. Troy Chance, a freelance writer living in Lake Placid, dives off a ferry after seeing what she believes is a child being thrown off a passing ferry. She manages to find the young boy in the water and swims them both to safety, but the relief is short-lived when Troy realises that this was no accident.
Henry has created a very likable, down to earth protagonist in Troy Chance, and that's the main strength of this book. She's easy to like, easy to root for, and even when she makes questionable decisions, readers will still want her to succeed. The author has a relaxed writing style, peppered with pop culture references, that seems to mesh well with the character. There were a few instances of distracting tangents (which seemed to correlate with the author's previous jobs), but for the most part the story flowed well.
The setting moves from Lake Placid, NY to Ottawa, ON (Canada), which is a nice little bonus for me since I currently live in Ottawa. The mentions of Canadian vs US differences (Tim Hortons, loonies & toonies, etc.) were interesting and for the most part, spot on. (It came as no surprise to me when I later found out that the authors attended university in Ottawa and clearly knew the city well.)
The supporting characters were well written, especially the young boy at the centre of everything. The plot had a few twists and turns, and while I thought the ending was a little bit of a cheat, I liked that the author stayed true to her protagonist's character.
Bottom Line: Minor flaws didn't dampen my enjoyment of this book, and I look forward to reading the sequel when it's published next year.