Review: Swim to Me by Betsy Carter

15292590I made a bookish resolution this year that I am now regretting, and that was to review every book I read here on the blog.  But I forgot how hard it is to  (A.)  keep up and  (2.) write a review for a ‘blah’ book.  The books I hate are easy to review, and the books I love- even easier.  The trickiest reviews for me to write are for books that are just ok- and then it’s difficult trying to say what was wrong with them (especially when the answer is: nothing, really) or why they weren’t better, and that is the task at hand today.

Swim to Me by Betsy Carter is about a young girl named Dolores who, after a family vacation to Florida, decides that she wants to be a mermaid in a show that she visited at Weeki Wachee Springs, a low budge tourist attraction not far from the “new” park some crazy guy named Walt Disney is building.  So two years after that initial visit, 17 year old Dolores, who’s Bronx home life has become unbearably sad after her father leaves the family, boards a Greyhound bus bound for Florida with only a bag full of silver dollars and the promise of an interview at the mermaid place.

The rest of the book is about Dolores’s mermaid adventures- because she becomes a BIG sensation!  And then there is her stint as a weather girl in a tail, and how she becomes a hero!  And then she has a reunion with her dad, who’s now working at the circus!  It’s also about her relationship with her bitter mother, her weirdo boss, her sweet little brother Westie, oh! and swimming with circus elephants- in the ocean!  She also has full conversations with a creepy doll, out loud, while her roommate in the mermaid dorm keeps watch so no one else overhears.  Really!

This book was just not that well written.  Characters were poorly drawn and underdeveloped.  Situations were silly and unrealistic and, as bizarre as some of them were, not that interesting. The dialogue, especially between mother and daughter, was ‘off’ and seemed all wrong.  It took real effort on my part to finish the book.  It wasn’t horrible, exactly.  I just can’t bring myself to recommend it, unless you really like mermaids, or are into synchronized swimming.  Then it might appeal to you.

I found out after I read the book that Weeki Wachee Springs, FL is actually a real place, and was able to find some footage on youtube.  SO if you’ve been there, then this book might be for you.  And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are the real mermaids of Weeki Wachee!

15 Responses

  1. Good ol’ YouTube – you can find anything there. I’m sorry to hear the books not very good, because I love the cover.

  2. Hmmmm…the video is pretty boring to, couldn’t finish it…

  3. OMG.. can you hear me groaning? If the book is anything like the video, then I feel your pain. What a cheesy attraction!! Weeki Wachee sounds like a completely ficticious town. Not.

  4. Ti, no kidding! I was kinda shocked to learn it was a real place because while I was reading it I kept thinking, how stupid! They did an underwater “Godfather” show in the book because at the time (70s) the movie was really big, and it packed people in. The description of the show (I think they called it The Merfather, if I remember correctly) was so totally cheesy, and it NEVER ONCE occurred to me that this was a real place or a real show.

  5. I totally agree that the hardest book to review is the “blah” book, the kind of book that you finish and you’re kind of like “eh, whatever” because it doesn’t really elicit any sort of response. The blah book is definitely one of the biggest challenges to reviewing every book you read!

    Sounds like a weird place and a weird story!

  6. Wow. The part where she hopped out on her tail to get in the cart cracked me up. And all the “retired” mermaids coming back to perform again? Who would go see that??

  7. I agree, it is hard to review a “blah” book, but I try to be fair and state what I personally did not care for. You did a nice job with your review on Swim to Me, I think.

    I think the part I struggle with a “blah” book is should I finish it in hopes it gets better or just for the sake of finishing – or just give up and move onto a hopefully more engaging book?

  8. I know how that is! I review every book I read and writing a review for the “meh” books is so annoying!

  9. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Though I do tend to lean on the more positive side when it’s a blah book because though I didn’t LOVE it, there may be someone out there who will and it wasn’t terrible so, why not point out all the positive things.
    Thanks for starting the conversation on this L!

  10. Geez, I hate writing reviews for the blah books. It’s even harder reading them. Hope the next one is better for you. I do like the cover on this one though.

  11. Like Planet Books above, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has trouble with the so-so books. In fact, I often skip reviewing them altogether, so I feel for you that you’ve made that resolution. Hopefully you didn’t sign a binding contract🙂

  12. Thank you for this review! I tried to read this last fall after seeing it on ReadingGroupChoices.com and it’s the first book I have put down in years.

    I’m happy my book group didn’t choose this, I can’t give a full review since I only made it to the 2nd/4rd chapter.

  13. Those are the hardest reviews for me to do too, for just the reasons you mentioned. I just feel I have nothing to say, one way or the other. This is of course a problem with review books. =)

  14. That’s too bad. I’ve had this book on my TBR list for a while now. I may have to skip this one after all …

  15. I’m in the process of writing my review for the book. Despite it’s flaws I enjoyed the book. I’m just working on how to address that split between liking it and being annoyed at its weak points.

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