Synopses & Reviews
Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother make sure the literal family skeleton stays in the closet or turning scraps of fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister Thalia, an impoverished Actress with a capital A, is her polar opposite, priding herself on exposing the lurid truth lurking behind middle class niceties. While Laurel's life seems neatly on track — a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in suburban Victorianna — everything she holds dear is suddenly thrown into question the night she is visited by the ghost of a her 13-year old neighbor Molly Dufresne.
The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is inexplicable — an unseemly mystery Laurel knows no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Only her wayward, unpredictable sister is right for the task, but calling in a favor from Thalia is like walking straight into a frying pan protected only by Crisco. Enlisting Thalia's help, Laurel sets out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about her family's guarded past, the true state of her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.
Richer and more rewarding than any story Joshilyn Jackson has yet written, yet still packed with Jackson's trademarked outrageous characters, sparkling dialogue, and defiantly twisting plotting, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is destined both to delight Jackson's loyal fans and capture a whole new audience.
"Jackson matches effortless Southern storytelling with a keen eye for character and heart-stopping circumstances. Laurel, a high-end quilt maker, sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom one night. When it leads her to the backyard and a dead girl in the swimming pool, the life Laurel had hoped to build in her gated Florida neighborhood with her video-game designer husband, David, and their tween daughter, Shelby, starts to fall apart. Though the police clear the drowning as accidental, it soon appears that Shelby and her friend Bet may have been involved. Bet, who lives in DeLop, Laurel's impoverished hometown, was staying over the night of the drowning and plays an increasingly important role as the truth behind the drowning comes to light. Meanwhile, Laurel's sister, Thalia, whose unconventional ways are anathema to Laurel's staid existence, comes to stay with the family and helps sort things out. Subplots abound: Laurel thinks David is having an affair, and Thalia reveals some ugly family secrets involving the death of their uncle. What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel's finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A veritable southern gothic, Jackson's fluid, masterful novel builds to an exciting, if somewhat over-the-top finish that at last weaves together Laurel's past and her present." Booklist
"Jackson illuminates not just the complexities of family love as a source of safety and support but also the complexities of danger and death." Library Journal
"...a great tale [that] builds to an exciting and violent ending, one that surprises and yet seems to fit."
"... buoyant and moving ....beautifully balanced between magical and reali
st fiction... closer in tone and voice to Alice Sebold's 'The Lovely Bones' or Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy."
-Atlanta Journal Constitution
"A ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one. Jackson's latest is a wild, smartly calibrated achievement. A-."
"Jackson has done it again...her skillful unraveling of family secrets and betrayal left me breathless. You must read this book!" Sara Gruen, New York Times-bestselling author of Water for Elephants
Lauren Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother keep family skeletons in the closet or sewing her acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister, Thalia, is her opposite, an impoverished actress who prides herself on exposing the lurid truths lurking behind middle class niceties.
While Laurel's life seems neatly on track-- a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, a lovely suburban home-- everything she holds dear is threatened the night she is visited by the ghost of her 13-year-old neighbor Molly. The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly, floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is an unseemly mystery that no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Laurel enlists Thalia's help, even though she knows it comes with a high price tag.
Together, they set out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about their family's haunted past, the true state of Laurel's marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.
About the Author
Joshilyn Jackson, a native of the Deep South, has worked as an actor and an award-winning teacher, and is now a writer and a mother of two. Jackson lives with her husband and children outside of Atlanta.