Night Swimming, by Robin Schwarz
Reviewed by Jess, age 24, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Charlotte Clapp, an overweight, plain bank worker, had lost the desire to care about her appearance or impress anyone. She had let life slip through her fingers and lost touch with herself. Living in the tiny town in Gorham, New Hampshire, where everyone knows everyone and their business, Charlotte found her life a predictable, boring, invisible existence.
Charlotte lives her life through regret. The man she once loved and lived for left her for her best friend. Betrayed by the two people closest to her, she has lost trust in those around her, as well as the desire to gain joy out of living. All of this changes when Charlotte receives a life altering phone call. What she'd thought to be a seemingly routine physical turns out to reveal some heartbreaking news. She is told she has one year left to live.
Charlotte is suddenly hit square in the face with reality and has to make a quick decision about what to do. Realizing her life is about to end, and not having truly lived it, she has to make the decision either to let life take her over, or to take over life. Predictable Charlotte breaks out of character and robs the bank she works at of two million dollars and takes off for California, the land she always wanted to live in. Charlotte has the epiphany that life is short and you need to suck it all in, the best you can. She is on a mission to experience everything she missed out on all those years of her life. No matter what, she will find love and she will find happiness.
Night Swimming is an excellent read. The book gets its title from the "night swimming" Charlotte does in the pool at her California condo. A girl who once wouldn't share an inch of skin due to her self-consciousness lets go in the water, where she feels free and finds her body and soul changing before her eyes. The story takes a turn upside down during Charlotte's mission to find life. The reader is thrown a curve ball when Charlotte finds out even more shocking news near the end of the book.
The author's style is very personal, real, and humorous. The story makes you laugh, cry, and empathize with the character. You run with Charlotte, and you cheer for her the whole way through. Her story is inspiring and makes you realize life should never be taken for granted, and you should never drift through life wishing to get back the years you lost. Charlotte makes her dreams come true and believes in herself for the first time in a long while. She embraces every new experience and doesn't take anything too seriously. She does what makes her happy and doesn't look back. She pushes herself farther than she ever did and takes chances she never took. After all, what has she got to lose?
The book is definitely fresh and never stale. It's an eye opening book that makes you look at your own life and self.
I give this book 4 stars (of a possible 5).