Title:Learning to Swim
Series: Heart Out of Water
Author: Annie Cosby
Genre: Contemporary, YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 1st 2014
*I received this book for review from the author, this in no way affects my thoughts expressed in this review*
When Cora’s mother whisks the family away for the summer, Cora must decide between forging her future in the glimmering world of second homes where her parents belong, or getting lost in the bewitching world of the locals and the mystery surrounding a lonely old woman who claims to be a selkie creature—and who probably needs Cora more than anyone else.
Through the fantastical tales and anguished stories of the batty Mrs. O’Leary, as well as the company of a particularly gorgeous local boy called Ronan, Cora finds an escape from the reality of planning her life after high school. But will it come at the cost of alienating Cora’s mother, who struggles with her own tragic memories?
As the summer wanes, it becomes apparent that Ronan just may hold the answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s tragic past—and Cora’s future.
“The Irish told each other stories about a sea creature much like the mermaid. Only she’s called the Merrow.” She readjusted the scarf on her head as she nodded knowingly. “They’re sweet, sweet creatures. Capable of real love. Well, human love—if that can be said to be real love.”
“Do you believe in them?” I asked skeptically.
The old woman’s eyes remained fixed on a spot on the horizon. I followed her gaze. There was nothing but boats and seagulls, the normal fare of the ocean. She finally seemed to find herself and her eyes continued to rove.
“They say that love cannot overcome nature,” she finally said. “Supposedly the nature of the Merrow always overcomes whatever love they held for their human man. She will always go back to her people under the sea.”
Sounded to me like a cruel comment on female nature made by a bitter man.
“And the merman, oh, there are stories of mermen. Terrible stories. The mermen have cages at the bottom of the ocean in which they keep the souls of our drowned sailors and fishermen.”
A chill ran through me despite my unwillingness to become involved in the story.
When Cora first arrived at her family’s new summer vacation spot she wasn’t all too excited. Spending any of her waking hours at “The Pink Palace” wasn’t exactly her idea of a good time, but well, I can’t give any spoilers but let’s just say she might soon change her mind!
When I started this book, I honestly wasn’t expecting the way the story ended up and yet as I close the book I can’t see it going any other way. Funny how hindsight does that to you, isn’t it? Exploring her town for the summer, Cora meets a wonderful cast of characters, including an elderly woman who spends her days on her front porch overlooking the ocean waiting for her long gone husband to bring himself and his boat back home, and telling whoever will listen all about selkies and other creatures of the sea, and these characters really helped to bring the story full circle. I love Annie Cosby’s writing in this story, be it a teenage girl from an effluent family who doesn’t really care about the money or a teenage boy from the other side of the tracks who gives into the stereotypes just as much as the girl(or every other character in between!), this author knows how to give each character their own voice, and that makes this story shine for me.
All in all, if you love a good contemporary YA or a good YA Fantasy or a little of both, Learning to Swim is a must read! Just be prepared to want to read the next book ASAP with that cliffhanger ending!
About the Author:
Annie Cosby is the YA author of the USA Today recommended Hearts Out of Water series and the Amazon bestselling Hummingbird Saga.
When she’s not writing, she’s usually freelance editing for her awesome clients and traveling to places full of history and magic. She splits her days between her hometown, St. Louis, and her adopted love, Galway, Ireland.