Friday, April 19, 2024

Poetry Friday- Deep Water

Sumner, Jamie. Deep Water
April 9, 2024 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this novel in verse, we see Tully preparing to make a 12.1 swim across Lake Tahoe, accompanied only by her good friend Arch in a kayak, who will offer support, bananas, and an emergency plan if something goes wrong. The water is cold, but she is determined, and has trained hard for this. Her mother is a physical therapist and also an avid swimmer who has supported Tully, but has also decided to leave Tully and her father. If Tully is the youngest person ever to make this swim, her mother will have to come home. There are lots of rules for the swim, and Tully and Arch are careful to follow all of them but one: getting parental permission. It's not as easy task, and Tully worries about getting an infection in a paper cut, developing a cramp, and dealing with parents who might eventually figure out where the kids are and try to stop them. In flashbacks, as the miles go by, we find out about the complicated reasons that the mother left, and how it has impacted Tully and her father. When a storm approaches, Tully doesn't want to give up, although Arch, who is a very supportive friend but not necessarily a fan of adventure for himself, contacts the parents. Will Tully be able to complete her swim, not because it will bring her mother home, but because it will help her find herself? 
Strengths:Swimming, in my mind, is the hardest sport of all, and there are very few books about it, especially open water endurance swimming. This book would be a perfect opportunity to introduce young readers to the accomplishments of Diana Nyad! This starts out quickly, and quietly unfolds a lot of information about Tully's family dynamics that I don't want to spoil. There is a good balance between the details of the physical sensation of being in the cold water and having to exert so much energy, and Tully's introspective inner turmoil. There's a satisfying plot arc as well as just enough parent involvement. Fans of Sumner's Tune It Out, Roll with It, Summer of June, Maid for It, and One Kid's Trash will be eager to get their hands on this. 
Weaknesses: While writing this, I realized that I wanted to know a little bit more about Arch. Tully's description of him makes it seem like she doesn't really respect his personality, but she trusts him enough to put her life in his hands. He's certainly very secondary to the plot, but I found myself thinking a lot about what was going through HIS mind during this journey. 
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who enjoyed reading about the mental health challenges of the protagonist in Baron's The Grayor the mother's problems in medina's The One Who Loves You Most or Trowbridge Road, the swimming in Morrison's Up for Airor the combination of swimming and problems with the mother in Fipps' Starfish. Also, add this adventurous title from a popular author to the growing list of middle grade literature showing children coping with the effects of mental health challenges that includes Keller's The Science of Unbreakable Things, Jones' Silhouetted by the Blue , Hiranandani's The Whole Story of Half a GirlMelleby's Hurricane Season, Van Otterloo's  The Beautiful Something Else, Greenwald's Absolutely, Positively Natty, Strout's Next Door to Happy, Walters's The King of Jam Sandwiches, Rushby's The Mulberry Tree, and Kalmar's Stealing Mt Rushmore.

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