Angels Can’t Swim by Alexandra McCann

In all honesty, this novella isn’t something I would have picked up – but, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Short in length, I read this over the course of two evenings, and I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I got into the story, and how involved I was with the characters by its end. I even shed a few tears!

To main focus of the story is three friends who are all members of the college swim team; Maggie, Eden and Jenna. Each are dealing with issues and choices which are easily relatable to young adults such as; sexuality, mental health, religion, low self-esteem and the consequences of poor choices.

Written in the third person and told to the reader via an omniscient narrator, I was initially sceptical and worried that I would feel distanced from the characters, unable to relate to them as well as if it were told through their eyes directly. However, it suits the themes of the novella really well. Through this type of narration, the reader gets a real sense that the characters are so deeply internalising their own feelings, that they cannot be trusted to narrate their own story; only an omniscient narrator can be objective enough to tell the truth. The dialogue is also very minimal. Again, this serves to highlight the lack of talking about the issues that matter.

And that really is the crux of the novel. It’s an invitation to young adults to talk about the issues that matter to them. It is part of the movement to eradicate mental health and sexuality as taboo and attempting to incite a solidarity between young people.

My only negative comment would be that the writing could do with a bit of polish and shine, and certain areas need some tweaking. However, Alexandra McCann is obviously a talented writer and she has delivered a fast paced, very readable and enjoyable novella which also delivers a strong, relevant message to its demographic.


For lovers of coming-of-age novels such as Annie on My Mind and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, plus those who enjoyed What Made Maddy Run…

Three college juniors. A swim team. A manipulative coach. Unexpected life circumstances. A girl struggling with her sexuality. A story that you will not forget.

Angels Can’t Swim is a novella that captures so many elements of the life of a student-athlete, from mental health to sexuality to relationships. While partially a story about swimming, it is also the story of finding yourself, finding your voice, and figuring out who you want to be. Focusing on college students and those around them but dealing with issues that cross the lifespan, readers from young adult all the way up will all enjoy this book and find something in one of the characters that sounds a little bit like them.

*I received an ebook copy of this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review

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