Title: Swimming to Freedom
Author: Robbie Michaels
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult Romance
Page Count: 186
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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.
Seventeen year old Brandon leads an extremely sheltered life (no cell phone, no computer, no social life) controlled by his demanding father, who is determined to turn Brandon into an Olympic-caliber swimmer. Brandon’s father harangues him and his teammates constantly, turning what used to be pleasure into sheer torture.
Brandon meets Tyler, a swimmer on a competing team, and with the help of his best friend Joel who runs interference with his domineering father, is able to start dating Tyler. Things come to a head when Brandon comes out to his father, resulting in him being tossed out of his home. Through a series of weird events, Brandon ends up briefly homeless and living under a bridge but the story ends hopefully for Tyler and Brandon.
This story did not work for me for a number of reasons. There is little character development of Brandon or Tyler throughout and I never really got a sense of their personalities. Brandon’s horrid father is a very much a caricature and Brandon’s BF Joel acts and speaks like he is much older than 17. Also the pace of the story felt very slow, especially during Brandon’s time under the bridge which distracted from the core plot, IMHO. Ultimately, I didn’t feel a emotional connection between the MCs and give Swimming to Freedom 3 stars.
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