Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Swimming by Nicola Keegan

What makes a champion athlete tick? Nicola Keegan's debut novel answers that question in medal-worthy fashion, shrugging off the sentimentality of the Olympic minibiopic with its muscular prose and its heroine's wryly comic voice. Philomena (Pip) Ash is a Kansas girl whose love of the water — "I kick; it moves me, and I feel joy" — eventually propels her to stardom. But for all her freakish talent, Pip is a girl we can relate to. She may be amphibious in the pool, but outside it — coping with everything from family tragedy to boy trouble to a Catholic school full of oppressive nuns — she's gloriously warm-blooded.