Thursday 17 September 2009

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshlyn Jackson

Pages 311

Published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2008

Challenges - RIP, Reliquiae and 100 books

First paragraph

Until the drowned girl came to Laurel's bedroom, ghosts had never walked in Victorianna. The houses were only twenty years old, with no accumulated history to put creaks in the hardwood floors or rattle at the pipes. The backyards had tall fences, and there were no cracks in the white sidewalks. Victorianna had a heavy wrought-iron gate guarding its entrance.

Don't you just love a good ghost story? I do and this wasn't it. It was good book, a real thriller and it had ghosts in it, but the ghosts in this book were purely there to help the main character Laurel make decisions in her life, similar to personal visions.

Here is a bit about the story, before I start waffling.

Laurel Hawthorne is woken up in the middle of the night by a ghost of a young girl staring at her in her bedroom. Laurel follows the ghost to the window and then notices the body of 14 year Molly floating dead in her swimming pool.

Every one in the gated community of Victorianna is convinced that it is an accident, even the police have decided it is an accident too. Yet Laurel feels that their is something more sinister going on. Everything around Laurel starts to fall apart and she calls upon the help of her rather destructive sister Thalia to help her discover what really happened to Molly.

They embark on a journey to solve the death of Molly, along the way Laurel also discovers some home truths about her family and finally what did happen in the woods all those years ago.

This was a fabulous plot. I honestly thought it was very well crafted. As you read the book, you watch as the story slowly unfolds, just like an oragami folded flower, where each time you unfold a piece the whole thing looks different to before.

Laurel starts off as quite a weak character, she has spent years learning to live within her comfort zone and learning to wear blinkers to certain aspects of her life. By the end of the book, Laurel has learnt to kick ass! She stands up to the members of her family who have kept her under their thumbs for years. Laurel comes to realise that she is happy with her lot and no amount of meddling by her sister will change the fact.

Thalia is the sister, you would rather not have. Thalia comes to her sister's rescue with one intent close to her heart, to destroy her sister's marriage, which she believes is not the life her sister really wants. Personally, I think marriage is hard enough, without having a member of your close knit family poking sticks into your relationship, till all the marbles fall out like in Ker Plunk! and you are left with an empty shell of a marriage. By the end of the book, the relationship between Thalia and Laurel is repaired and they bounce back stronger as if they had been bonded by Superglue. I don't think I would forgive my sister so easily, but hey I am British.

There are some stir crazy minor characters whose unusual activities tend to make you raise your eyebrows.

I was trying to think about another book I felt this one reminded me of and then it came to me. Years ago I read Paullina Simons book Tully and I found a lot of similarities to this one and her other book Red Leaves. Now I really love Paullina Simons, when I first read her books I found her style of writing refreshing and unique, so finding a comparison to her is definitely a winning new author to me.

This book was much more of a thriller than a ghost story and a very dark one at that. It touches on taboo areas such as child abuse, alcoholism and prostitution, but in a light hearted way, so you don't feel uncomfortable reading about them.

I would highly recommend reading it. I also have her first book in my collection, Gods In Alabama to read, so I can't wait to dive into that one too.

Other reviews of this book

Lou's Pages

Everything Distills Into Reading

Socrates Book Reviews

Bookfan Mary

Peeking Between The Pages


  1. Though I haven't read this myself, it seems to be a bit of a disappointment to everyone who has. My sister was really looking forward to it but made much the same comments about it as you did.

  2. I'm American and I couldn't have forgiven Thalia either. She's probably the most annoying character I've read in a book this year!

  3. I thought it was a good book, but not the ghost story I thought it would be. I hated Thalia. I wouldn't have forgiven her.

  4. I really want to read this and I've entered for your giveaway. I'm hoping for the best, Viv! :D

  5. Hmm, I don’t know about this one. I don’t think I would like it. Great review, anyway!

  6. I do love a good ghost story and even though this was more of a thriller, it does sound good.

  7. I won this in a giveaway sometime back but haven't had the opportunity to read it yet.


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