First, I would like to thank Alexandra McCann for reaching out to me and sending me a review copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.
Angels Can’t Swim is a novella about three college juniors – Eden, Maggie and Jenna. The three girls are in the swim team and have to juggle practice, classes, love and life and all three are living through an emotional rollercoaster for the duration of the book. Will everything turn out good in the end, or will their struggles be too heavy to carry alone?
I really enjoyed this novella. It is a quick read and follows the three girls along the journey of one year through their college lives. It is about their expectations and about the expectations those around them have of them, about their responsibilities and life choices. The girls are going though a very special time in their lives – they are not simply teens any more, they have more freedom, but they are also not quite adults yet. Their self-image sometimes does not really correspond to what others see or want from them, but they learn to love themselves as they are, which sets a positive tone in the end of the story.
The writing is different than anything else I have ever read, it is written from the third-person perspective and there is no real direct speech, which makes it a bit difficult to empathize with the girls in the beginning, but you quickly get used to it and learn to like it as it is. Different, as you may now, is not always bad!
The three girls are all different, and they all have different problems which they have to solve or come to terms with somehow. The topics range from religion to love to relationships, from family bond and eating disorder to sexuality. I don’t want to spoiler too much, but there is a lot going on in each of their lives, but they learn to get along and find ways to solve their problems.
What I liked a lot was that they learned how to ask for help, and found that this is by no means a bad thing. Everyone needs someone in their life to talk to, and the book shows different approaches to make: talk to a friend, open up to a family member, or seek a guidance counselor. The girls also learned the importance of friendship and family – two things that were highly valued in the book, which I liked a lot!
The swim coach had a special role in the story, but not necessarily a good one, as you will find out for yourselves. He was a father figure to most of the girls on the swim team but badly misused their trust and went way over the line. But I find this difficult topic was nicely dealt with in the story.
I think this book would make an excellent read for high school students, as it deals with various topics that they have to deal with too, or situations they might know from their daily lives or see others dealing with. It has a nice message and sends the reader off with a positive feeling in the end, even though some of the topics it dealt with were rather heavy. It isn’t necessarily the *fangirling and drooling all over the pages* type of book, but it carries an important message.
Great coming-of age story – 4 stars from me.