It seems like I have been waiting FOREVER to share Coming Up For Air with you!
I love the concept of Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series. These books are young adult romances with strong female leads who are highly competitive athletes.
Here is the blurb:
Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.
All of Maggie's focus and free time is spent swimming. She's not only striving to earn scholarships—she's training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi's already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it's not until Maggie's away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the "typical" high school experience she's missed by being in the pool.
No one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?
This is my first book by Miranda Kenneally. I love how she captures the tone and wit of teen characters without turning them into stereotypes. The conversations and conflict are authentic to what an average high school student encounters daily. Her characters come to life fully. I never had that "this is an adult trying to sound like an adolescent" feeling.
This book reminded me of Forever by Judy Blume or Up in Seth's Room by Norma Fox Mazer. I realize those books are ancient at this point, but the message is still the same: Teens are going to have sex. It's okay for girls to want it as much as boys. And, it's okay for them to responsibly explore those feelings without anything tragic happening. I appreciated the empowering message of the story and honest portrayal of Maggie and Levi's relationship.
That being said, this is definitely an upper YA book. While the sexual situations are not described in graphic detail, they are presented in a frank, realistic manner that might be too mature for younger readers. I wouldn't be comfortable with my daughters (14 and 15) reading it just yet.
The story connects to Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series. Coming Up for Air is fine as a stand-alone, but I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been familiar with the series enough to recognize the inside jokes and history.
I am also completely clueless about competitive swimming. I'm sure someone involved in the sport would appreciate the details about strokes, times, and such, but I found myself skimming it.
I very much enjoyed Kenneally's writing style and will be checking out the others in this series.