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Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite
The sea has a tremendous pull on many people and for a variety of different reasons. For Cora Manchester, though, spending the summer after her senior year in high school in ‘The Pink Palace’ near the beach seems like a really bad idea. In an attempt to bring the family together, Cora’s mother makes this choice, but it only serves to alienate Cora even more, especially after she becomes friends with an old local woman and a boy her own age who seem to have deep secrets. In Learning to Swim, a Hearts out of Water novel by Annie Cosby, Cora learns a lot about herself and why she doesn’t fit in with others in her peer group – wealthy kids who have their lives planned out and are geared for success. Caught up in the magic and mystery of Mrs. O’Leary’s tales of Irish selkies, merrows and other half human/ half animal creatures, Cora is not sure what is real and what is the result of the old woman’s delusions. Can Cora find the place where she belongs and is it with the boy who has plenty of mysteries of his own, or is it in her parents' world of college, business and social standing?
Learning to Swim explores Cora Manchester’s transition from child to young woman in a summer resort on the sea. Well written, with plenty of interesting Irish lore mixed in with the day to day ups and downs of teenage life, the story follows Cora as she learns about who she really is and what she wants out of life. Love, heartache and a longing for some unknown quality of life drive Cora to experience things she has always stayed away from, with some very interesting results.