Friday, May 27, 2011

Book #24: Swim the Fly

I saw Don Calame's Swim the Fly mentioned in an article about books for reluctant male YA readers a few weeks ago and thought I'd give it a try. The teacher who reviewed it mentioned that all of her male students who humored her by picking up the book in the first place would, within the first three pages of the book, raise their eyes and look almost nervously around the room to determine if they were really allowed to read this book. It's all about the tone and subject matter, you see. And it gets young adult readers, both male and female, hooked.

The story focused on three male fifteen-year-old best friends. Their summer vacation has just started, and in addition to the time they spend on the local swim team, the three are trying to work out a way to achieve their summer goal. The summer goal is a tradition for Matt, Sean, and Cooper--every year they choose some new feat to achieve, from playing 1000 games of ping pong when they were younger to their latest goal, to see a live naked girl. Several amusing mishaps naturally ensue in the pursuit of this goal, and things get even more hilarious after Matt volunteers to swim the 100 meter butterfly race for the swim team in order to impress a girl.

Swim the Fly moves at a quick pace, has well-developed characters, and perhaps most importantly uses the same sort of language that young adults use. I can see why reluctant male readers would get hooked on this book--the seemingly risque goal of seeing a live naked girl reels them in, and pretty soon they just need to find out how the various mishaps can possibly resolve in favor of the three best friends. Add in the fact that it reads like hanging out and telling true stories with your best friends and you've got a very enjoyable book. I'd suggest it to folks looking to get young adult males interested in reading something, to readers who enjoyed The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian but might want something a bit more light-hearted, and to anyone looking to read some YA stuff from a strong male perspective.

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