Reviewed by Louisa
TITLE: Swimming to Freedom
AUTHOR: Robbie Michaels
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
LENGTH: 186 Pages
RELEASE DATE: 28th November 2017
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.
I am not really certain how I feel about Swimming to Freedom. It’s the story of a young man who is downtrodden by his obsessive father. Brandon swims because he loved it and now his father makes him. Tyler is a rival swimmer who Brandon falls in love with. My first issue with the story is that the title doesn’t really meld well for me. Brandon’s escape from his father hasn’t really got anything to do with swimming, even though swimming is such a huge theme in the book.
I felt that the characters are very flat. Brandon and Tyler don’t really develop. Instead about half way through the book Brandon starts to talk back to his father (even if he is right, it stills seems so out of place) and they begin to argue. Tyler doesn’t really change or grow.
Brandon’s father is your picture of a villain. He wants fame and glory and for Brandon to win because he believes it makes him look good. When his first son angered him, he kicked him out and then just ceased to exist. Much like what happens with Brandon once he leaves. Joel, the best friend, is probably my favourite character. But even he is a bit of a caricature.
The lead up to Brandon leaving his father is long winded. But when he finally does I thought maybe things would move along. But then things just got more complicated. And for me, messy. In the end I wasn’t really certain if this book was about Brandon breaking free or about him finding love or perhaps it was about family and them breaking apart and coming together. The book had a side note about how hard it is for youth who become homeless.
At the end of the day, I am giving this book 3 stars because despite the fact that I found lots of things annoying, I still enjoyed reading the story. I could appreciate the struggle and the desire to do well. I am I could appreciate something you love being turned into your burden. I also appreciate the depiction of reality that someone who has family and friends could still end up in a horrible situation. I will read future books of Robbie Michaels to see how his stories grow and develop.