Caterpillars Can't Swim.

Author:Schingler, Michelle Anne
Position:Book review

Liane Shaw; CATERPILLARS CAN'T SWIM; Second Story Press (Children's: Young Adult Fiction) 13.95 ISBN: 9781772600537

Byline: Michelle Anne Schingler

Caterpillars Can't Swim is an encouraging story about what's possible if teens choose to accept the people around them.

The presumably small thinking within a small riverside town may have disastrous consequences in Liane Shaw's Caterpillars Can't Swim, a coming-of-age story that encourages celebrating one's differences.

With his flaming red hair and use of a wheelchair, Ryan stands out from other teens, but his unflappable attitude has always kept him safe. His best friend, Cody, is a jock and a fellow swim team member; Ryan stays under the radar of bullies and bigots. That is, until he witnesses the near drowning of a classmate. His decision to rescue Jack propels them both into the spotlight.

Jack is certain that he is the only gay teenager in town, and he's terrified of what might happen if his secret gets out. Ryan promises to stay silent, initiating a friendship that leads them both in unexpected directions.

The novel grapples with heavy and familiar teen issues, including prejudice and self-acceptance. Ryan is an able narrator whose seemingly superhuman act is mirrored in his exceptional approach to the world. He is frank in discussing the things he may be missing out on but still...

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