The rules for swimming are simple:
Rule #1: There is no lifeguard on duty.
Since her mom died three years ago, nineteen-year-old Zosia Easton’s been treading water. Living at home. Community college. Same old Saturday nights. So when her father breaks the news he’s taken a job transfer—and by the way, it means renting out the house that’s been her refuge—a summer in Tokyo feels like it just might be a chance to start swimming again.
Rule #2: Beware of unexpected currents.
Finn O’Leary has spent God knows how many years trying to drown out his past. Juvenile detention. Bad decisions. Worse choices. He’s managed to turn it around – MIT, Dean’s List, a sexier-than-thou body with a smile to match – at least on the surface. When his mom asks him to spend the summer with her, Tokyo seems as good a place as any to float through the summer.
Rule #3: Swim at your own risk.
I changed the beginning about 7 times and I still feel attached to one of the original beginnings of the book when Zosia meets Finn in the cafeteria in high school and they have an awkward encounter. It felt too YA to me to keep it, but the awkwardness! It honestly had me cringing.
Oh wow. I think it would have to be a cookbook or something useful. I seldom re-read fiction, but I can always get behind good food. And if I could learn to make something delicious in the process? All the better!
I’m working on an NA romantic suspense that’s told in dual POV. Think “Nearly Gone” meets “Hopeless.”
Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St. John Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let me just start off by saying what a wonderful surprise this book was. I picked this book up and didn’t put it down again until I turned the last page! Swimming To Tokyo is Brenda St. John Brown’s debut title, and I was completely blown away by it. I apologize in advance if my review gets a little flaily!
Zosia Easton, (or Zoe to the people who are NOT near and dear to her heart) is 19 and living at home with her father who works too much and attending classes at the local college. She’s still dealing with the death of her mother from 3 years ago and trying to hold on to the memories of the time before she was gone… She keeps everyone except her best friend at a safe distance and never really puts her heart on the line for anyone. Her life has become stagnant. That is until her father breaks the news that he’s gotten a promotion that includes a move to Tokyo, and he wants to go… he needs to go. He wants her to come and spend the summer and even though she struggles emotionally with letting go of the home she grew up in and the memories they created there, she agrees with her father and decides to join him.
Finn O’Leary has a past he’s not proud of, and demons he battles every day. But he’s turned things around and has spent the last year at MIT, making the Dean’s List and applying himself… When his mom suggests he spend the summer with her, he realizes it might be an opportunity skim through the summer and also experience something he wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to do.
Neither one expects the other… in more ways than one.
So… what did I love besides everything? First and foremost it was the characters for me. Both Zosia and Finn were so wonderfully developed that I completely fell in love with them. I can’t think of a single thing about them that bothered me or I would have changed. They are both at that time in life where you’re still sort of a kid but now also sort of an adult and where Zosia has always had an amazing relationship with her family, Finn is the complete opposite. They have a connection to each other prior to arriving in Tokyo and it definitely added to the situation between them.
I really loved Zosia’s relationship with her grandmother. Without her mother to lean on, especially for those milestones we all have growing up, it was nice to know she had Babci. And even though it isn’t the ideal, she had some amazing advice for her and a lifetime of experiences to help her through some of her issues. Plus – bonus points for the added Polish in the story. But I also have to say that I really loved her relationship with her father. Even at the beginning when I was worried he worked too much and maybe didn’t worry about his daughter enough, I still liked him. But when we got to see their interactions together in Tokyo, I really enjoyed the respect that they showed each other and the trust they had in each other. Was everything perfect? No… I mean, He definitely does work too much and he isn’t completely honest with her about a few things up front. But when they were coming clean with each other and sharing their feelings about things, you could get a sense of their love for each other and that was really perfect to see.
And Zosia herself was snarky, and for the most part pretty self-assured and knows who she is. And I really liked her friendship with Mindy. Though we don’t see a ton of it, what you do see is them supporting each other and I always love that.
The setting of this story is like it’s very own character! While I’ve never been to Tokyo I feel like I was transported there with this story. I loved being a tourist through this book – hearing about the different cities and the transportation and the temples and the food (not that I would eat any of it!)… as a reader I got to experience all of those amazing things through these characters experiences and it was really well done.
So… let’s talk about Finn. You guys – this boy. Do you love the tattoo having, guitar playing, song writing, lover of books, attempting reform, bad boy? I don’t always, but holy crap do I love this one!!
He so brings the swoons I can’t even tell you!!
“This summer has been so much more than I ever thought it would be. You… someone like you… was never supposed to be here. That night on the swings, I remember thinking I wished I knew you. You were so beautiful. So genuine. And then you were here. And all I’ve wanted is more and more and more of you.”
BUT … but but but he also has a lot of drama and some issues and he’s not perfect. Everything is definitely not smooth sailing for these two. They struggle with being honest about their feelings, they struggle about being honest about their pasts and they struggle with what is in store for their futures. And it is a BIG struggle I can’t lie to you. There are things that they are both dealing with that causes some friction between them and while their chemistry together is combustible… they have to continue to work at building the trust and opening up and putting down the walls they’ve both built up over time.
If you’re looking for a fun, sexy, entertaining read and a great new voice in the New Adult world, then I definitely recommend Swimming to Tokyo when it is released! Thank you to Spencer Hill Contemporary for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!