What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the focus of this coming-of-age novel is the main characters' goal to see a naked woman in real life, without the woman's knowledge. The boys lie to parents, girls, and a swim coach. They tease each other about masturbation and refer to using internet porn and reading Playboy. They attend a party where teens are drinking, and they spy on and take pictures of a couple who are planning to have sex at the party. There are no real consequences for their behavior and, in fact, they are rewarded in some ways. By the time Matt decides not to lie anymore, the book is almost over and he has a girlfriend anyway. Matt's dad left his mom for a younger woman, but this is only mentioned in passing and not really explored as far as how this might affect the family.
What's the story?
Freshman swim team members, Matt, Sean, and Coop set a goal to see a naked girl by the end of summer, and the entire book revolves around their schemes to spy on various young women. Matt volunteers to swim the butterfly, a very difficult stroke for him, in order to impress Kelly, who is preoccupied with her cheating ex-boyfriend. Late in the book, Matt has a crisis of conscience, but doesn't really stand up to his friends about his conflicted feelings. He still goes along with their ploys, but tries to foil them behind the scenes.
Is it any good?
SWIM THE FLY could've been a good coming-of-age story if the focus had shifted from the challenge of seeing a naked girl to Matt's challenge of swimming the butterfly much sooner in the story. As it stands, it seems that Matt's focus changes because he suddenly finds himself with a girlfriend (a nice girl that he hung out with but never even thought of in that way until she finally gave him the "I like you like you" talk and kissed him). Some kids might find the main characters' antics and failures funny; however, there is no realization on the part of the boys that girls are actually people with feelings and not just bodies to look at or things to make out with.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the boys' goal. Why was there such urgency about it? What does the fact that they wanted to see a naked woman without her knowledge say about how they view women as people?
Matt's dad left his mom for a younger woman, and his grandfather is not
honest in his relationships either. How do you think this could affect
Matt's relationships? How do you think Matt could overcome these influences?
Why would Kelly get back together with Tony after he cheated on her so often? Why was Matt so preoccupied with Kelly when she couldn't even remember his name?
Why didn't Matt notice Valerie until she expressed interest in him?