Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Random Review: Swimming to Freedom by Robbie Michaels #Review #Giveaway

Author: Robbie Michaels
Book: Swimming to Freedom
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publication date: November 28, 2017
Length: 186 pages
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Reviewed by Erin


Once, swimming was a labor of love for Brandon. Now it’s just a labor.

When Brandon’s competitive, domineering father decided to cash in on his son’s hobby, he sucked all the joy out of the sport for his son. Now Brandon’s father spends every ounce of his energy training Brandon for one purpose: Olympic gold and with it the chance to experience success vicariously through Brandon.

Brandon falling in love with Tyler, another swimmer, was not part of his father’s plan. Luckily the two young men have Joel in their corner, a straight ally who helps them find time alone. When Brandon’s father finds out about the relationship, his reaction is sadly predictable, and soon, Brandon’s new home is beneath a bridge. He finds peace swimming in the river, but feels fear as wild animals pass by his shelter during the night. 

But once again, his happiness cannot last. Torrential storms are threatening to wash away his future—maybe for good this time.

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Coming of age stories are my jam. I love LOVE them something fierce ... the angst, the growth, the self-reflection of characters this age (Usually late teens and early twenties) just really gets to me in all the best ways. Mistakes are made, lessons learned, and new paths toward the future are forged. When I read the blurb of Swimming to Freedom by Robbie Michaels I knew this was a book I needed to read. While there were some lessons learned, there wasn't much in the way of growth for Brandon and Tyler. 

Brandon loves to swim, or he did until his controlling, domineering father turned Brandon's love of swimming into its own form of torture. From pushing his son beyond his limits to his blatant homophobia, the man is every horrible stereotype you can imagine. So much so that it kind of took away from the overall story, which is very angsty (if you need/want to know that kind of thing up front). Brandon meets fellow swimmer, Tyler, and the two instantly hit it off. It's hard for the two boys to so much as talk let alone be together with Brandon's ever present father looming everywhere, but with Brandon's best friend, Joel's, help, they are able to do just that. I wanted so much to feel more of a connection between Brandon and Tyler, but unfortunately it just wasn't there. 

I had high hopes for this novel, but it just didn't live up to my expectations. There are many YA books out there that tackle the subject of coming out and dealing with homophobia and Swimming to Freedom had a lot of potential, but sadly fell short for me. The characters were too one dimensional, there wasn't much if any growth, and as a result I wasn't as invested as I wanted to be in Brandon and Tyler getting their HEA. 


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