Swim Back to Me by Ann Packer

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From Ann Packer, author of the New York Times best-selling novels The Dive from Clausen’s Pier and Songs Without Words, a collection of burnished, emotionally searing stories, framed by two unforgettable linked narratives that express the transformation of a single family over the course of a lifetime.

A wife struggles to make sense of her husband’s sudden disappearance. A mother mourns her teenage son through the music collection he left behind. A woman shepherds her estranged parents through her brother’s wedding and reflects on the year her family collapsed. A young man comes to grips with the joy—and vulnerability—of fatherhood. And, in the masterly opening novella, two teenagers from very different families forge a sustaining friendship, only to discover the disruptive and unsettling power of sex.

Ann Packer is one of our most talented archivists of family life, with its hidden crevasses and unforeseeable perils, and in these stories she explores the moral predicaments that define our social and emotional lives, the frailty of ordinary grace, and the ways in which we are shattered and remade by loss. With Swim Back to Me, she delivers shimmering psychological precision, unfailing intelligence, and page-turning drama: her most enticing work yet.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Ann Packer

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Ann Packer is the author of two best-selling novels, Songs Without Words and The Dive from Clausen's Pier, the latter of which received a Great Lakes Book Award, an American Library Association Award, and the Kate Chopin Literary Award. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Vogue, and Real Simple. Also the author of Mendocino and Other Stories, she lives in northern California with her family.
Published April 5, 2011 by Vintage. 240 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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To Richard, the 13-year-old narrator of “Walk for Mankind,” his new friend Sasha’s parents, Dan and Joanie Horowitz, seem happier and much more fun than his morose father and his well-intentioned, much-resented mother, who left her husband and son to move out to Oakland because she “needed to do ...

Dec 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

The New York Times

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In “Molten,” a mother breaks down after the death of her teenage son, immersing herself in his CD collection while her family disintegrates around her.

May 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

Kirkus Reviews

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I didn’t dedicate individual stories in Mendocino and Other Stories.

Apr 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

New York Journal of Books

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Packer’s manipulation of language to express this discovery is simple and profound.These are not stories of high drama, yet the quiet details and nuanced points of view make each in its own way poignant—at times so emotionally intense it makes it hard to breathe, and even harder to turn the page.

Apr 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

Book Reporter

Ann Packer's two novels --- THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN'S PIER and SONGS WITHOUT WORDS --- have become book club favorites and critical successes alike for their wonderfully complex examinations of the ways various sorts of relationships change over time: either suddenly, in the wake of a tragedy, or g...

Apr 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

Dallas News

It was a quality that made her — that gave her permission to — insist on what she wanted.” Intelligent and precocious, Sasha decides that she and Richard will participate in the Walk for Mankind, “a twenty-mile walk around Palo Alto to raise money for the world’s poor and infirm.” Richard obeys S...

Apr 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

San Francisco Chronicle

Her prose is so simple and direct it has a scrubbed-clean quality, and her patient investigations reveal human longing in such clear, stripped-down familiarity - never shirking from the difficult - that readers experience a singular sense of comfort.

Apr 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

Review (Barnes & Noble)

In the novella and five stories in Swim Back to Me , Ann Packer explores the risky and exhilarating teenage years, when the tipping point between talent and temptation is no longer mediated by adults.

Apr 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Pot becomes a big deal for Richard as he “laughs the ocean-wave laughter of the stoned, up and down and down and up, and it was incredibly intense and at the same time locked away from the real world, safe behind a wall of glass.” Richard loves to go to Sasha’s house where her free-wheeling pare...

May 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

The Agony Column

Here, as in other stories, she works well creating characters who are not present in the story.

May 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

Newcity Lit

Fan’s of Ann Packer’s acclaimed ”The Dive From Clausen’s Pier” and “Songs Without Words” won’t be disappointed by the novella and short stories in “Swim Back to Me.” Packer has once again proven herself adept at understanding family, both the love that binds them and the tragedies that threaten t...

Aug 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Swim Back to Me

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