Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

Learning to Swim by Sara J. HenryLearning to Swim by Sara J. Henry
Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Series: Troy Chance #1
Published by Audible, Inc. on 10/7/11
Genres: Mystery

Book: B+
Narration: B

This was an unexpectedly compelling audiobook. It was an interesting blend of mystery and suspense with some romantic elements blended in. I sometimes think I should start measuring/rating audiobooks by how long it takes me to listen to it or by how often I stop/start one and on that scale, this one would earn high marks. I put in several marathon listening sessions with Learning to Swim because I was swept up in the story. From the first chapter, this book pulled me in and it wasn’t until near the end that I came up for air.

Troy Chance lives an uncomplicated life in Lake Placid, New York. She works as a freelance journalist and lives in a run-down house where she rents rooms to a motley group of young men, most of who, like Troy, were drawn to the area by the availability of year-round outdoor activities or to train for various winter sports. While on the ferry to visit her boyfriend in Vermont, Troy happens to see a young boy fall from the opposite ferry. She instinctively dives in to the frigid waters of Lake Champlain after him. After the rescue and a cold swim to shore, Troy is beyond surprised to find no one at the ferry dock looking for a missing six year-old boy.

Troy makes some interesting choices as the story starts to unfold and while there was some background information slapped into the story to set the basis for those decisions, I think most readers will at least quirk an eyebrow in disbelief at her reasoning. For me, that sense of dissatisfaction with why Troy acted as she did was quickly washed away by the more pressing questions the story presented. Who was this little boy, Paul, who had been so carelessly tossed away? Why was no one looking for him? Why does he speak only French? As Troy begins to investigate Paul’s almost-drowning and track down his parents, she is drawn into their lives and it soon becomes clear that not only is Paul still in danger but Troy is as well.

I had some issues with Troy’s decision-making, there were a few instances of coincidental events that seemed contrived, and the ending was drawn out and didn’t provide me with a completely unexpected revelation of the bad guy as well as being comprised of an unlikely sequence of events. In addition, there were chunks of dialogue in French and the writer’s method of direct translation afterwards seemed clunky (but that may be because I recently finished a book where the foreign language sections were not translated line-by-line but by context and the response dialogue). I am compelled, though, to reiterate that despite these issues I was completely drawn in to this audiobook and found it hard if not impossible to put down. What works especially well with this book is the pacing. The core plot is a solid and intriguing story and Troy was constructed as a very sympathetic character. I found myself emotionally invested in Troy and Paul and the outcome of their story.

The narration by Suzanne Toren was good but her cadence and intonation for the narrative and the character of Troy didn’t come across to me as the speech/voice of an active, contemporary, young woman. I did settle into it eventually. Ms. Toren gave Paul an age-appropriate voice that I heard as that of a young boy. Although I have no experience with French accents, they sounded natural and I was particularly impressed with the variance in accent between French as spoken by Québécois characters vs. Troy’s rusty college French vs. a native speaker from France as well as the adept delivery of French accented English. There was a significant (to me) production issue with the files I downloaded from Audible:- there were what sounded like clumsy joins/splices where the words would stutter and part of a word would be cut out. I counted nine instances in the first file and then quit tracking them. From my subjective viewpoint, not my ideal narration but technically good and excellent in terms of accent work.

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  1. […] really enjoyed Sara J. Henry’s 2011 release Learning to Swim and had a pretty high level of anticipation for the second book starring Troy Chance. If you’re […]