Review Blog

Feb 21 2017

Girl out of water by Nat Luurtsema

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Walker Books, 2016. ISBN 9781406366525
(Age: 11+) Friendship. Humour. Swimming. Teens. Lou Brown and her friend Hannah have been best friends since they were 6; they are both tall with frizzy hair and are competitive swimmers. The 15 year olds are focused on representing Britain at the Olympics but when Lou comes last at the National Time Trials and Hannah makes it into the High Performance Training camp Lou has to face going back to school as a failed swimmer without her best friend. Lou's family is very supportive; older sister Lavender asserts that no one at school will care one way or another; her parents are separated but her dad moved back in when he lost his job so he says he knows how she feels; her mum, who teaches creative writing, keeps the family on track, comforting Lou while enjoying her own life. Lou reluctantly goes to school vowing to make new friends but she is subject to bullying by a nasty group of girls and feels clumsy and out of touch with normal school interactions after spending so much time focusing on swim training. She finds refuge in the school library 'home of the introverted and people too quiet to say 'no Lou I don't want to be your friend''. She finds an old book in the sports section called 'Swimming for women and the infirm' which makes her laugh with its emphasis on making 'ladylike shapes' in the water. It comes in useful when a group of boys who want to get on 'Britain's Got Talent' ask her to train them in a cross between dancing and synchronized swimming and Lou becomes too busy to worry about making friends or keeping in touch with Hannah at training camp. Hilarious escapades ensue as the group pursues their dream but when her friend needs her Lou bravely goes to her rescue.
Skillfully blending the emotional drama of modern teenage life with self-deprecating humour and a positive message about friendships and finding your place in the world this book will appeal to middle school girls.
Sue Speck

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