17-year-old Hunter Ryan is making a long-dreaded return trip home. He takes a Greyhound bus bound for Victoria, British Columbia with his ex-girlfriend Lee and a 12-year-old named Poppy. There’s a reason that Hunter left his parents, his friends, and his sister Bridget behind when he left for Alberta to live with his Aunt Lynne. Now Lee has come to bring him back because it’s time for him to face the real reason that he ran away. Swimmers traces their journey home, revealing Hunter’s past and the precarious, uncertain present in which he now finds himself. -Goodreads
Above all, I found Swimmers to be an honest story. You will not find silly, stereotypical, shallow, after-school-special moments or characters in this tale. The characters in Bright’s novel are realistic and raw, with all their real-world struggles and baggage in tow. I was impressed to read a well-written, YA novel that did not shy away from the harsh truths of young adulthood–parents are not perfect, children are not always “innocent,” and sometimes we lose the ones for whom we care, even the young.
While Swimmers‘ story moves a little more slow than some young readers would prefer, and the transitions between points in time might cause momentary confusion, what lies within is an in-depth look at the life and feelings of a growing boy experiencing a painful, and very real, chapter in his life.