Monday, July 10, 2017
REVIEW: Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally
In Coming Up For Air, the main character is Maggie. And she feels like all she does is sleep, eat, study and swim. And she doesn't usually have a problem with that ... all of her efforts have gone into getting into a good university with a good swimming team and she's hoping that she'll get a trial for the Olympic team. Going out for dinner with her friends on a Friday, including Levi, who already has an Olympic trial, is about the only 'normal' teenage thing Maggie does. And when she gets a glimpse of more normal teenage experiences (though, I'd say HILARIOUS as opposed to NORMAL!) Maggie starts to question if she's missed out at all by not going to parties or hooking up with boys. Will a friends with benefits thing with Levi be just what Maggie needs?
I really loved this book for going into detail about what it's like to be a competitive swimmer. My dad was a competitive swimmer, and I was on a swimming team for several years so a lot of Maggie's experiences came with a hint of nostalgia for me. But I did, I just loved the details of Maggie's life: spending time at the pool, the focus and determination it takes to be up that early to get swimming practice in, the hits to her social life, the amount of food is required to keep her mobile after all the swimming, how tired she is by 8-9pm. I was pretty in awe of Maggie and Levi's willpower and dedication, really.
The other aspect to the story that I thought was interesting is the way in which a rival competitor of Maggie's plays sort of mind-games with her in order to get Maggie to slip in her focus whilst swimming. It felt like something that people involved in such competitive activities would possibly resort to and I liked the way in which we witness Maggie reacting to it and also working out ways to block such negativity.
But, understandable that Maggie hasn't ever had the experiences other girls her age have had. I also really love a friends-to-more story line. I find them the sweetest. Because there's all this history already there and somehow Maggie and Levi have to rearrange what they know about the other person into this different way.
But, romance aside, this book (as other by Miranda Kenneally) seems also to heavily feature elements of identity. Maggie is all about beating her personal times in backstroke and doing well in particular in this specific event ... because who would she be without this? And ultimately, I loved her realisation that there is more to her and her life than one single thing. As always, a huge pleasure to read another book in the Hundred Oaks series!