The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Grand Central Publishing; $23.99
If you are looking for a good summer read, look no further. The book’s protagonist, Laurel Gray Hawthorne, is an art quilter, wife and mother living in a quiet Florida suburb. At the beginning of the novel, her orderly life is upset when the ghost of her 14-year-old neighbor, Molly Defresne, visits her. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly, who has drowned in Laurel’s family pool. What ensues is a good Southern mystery, full of quirky and endearing characters, dark family secrets and a life-altering journey as Laurel with the help of her sister, Thalia, try to uncover the reason for the drowning. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming was a “page-turner” and the characters stayed with me long after I finished it. This is the author’s third book (and I’ve picked up the other two to read this summer).
Why, you might wonder, did the author make her protagonist an art quilter? Joshilyn Jackson says that she felt a “fierce need to hand sew quilts” during her two pregnancies, but discovered she had “ZERO talent for quilt making.” But her desire to make art quilts led her to study them, and she discovered the work of art quilter Pamela Allen. She then spent seven years thinking about writing about an art quilter. In the course of the book, Laurel creates a quilt and last year the author commissioned Pamela to create that quilt.