Summary: Swim Team
After she and her dad move from Brooklyn to Florida, Bree is excited for her first day in middle school. But also, she’s super anxious about whether she’ll make friends and fit in. Thankfully, she makes a new friend in the housing complex where they live. Unfortunately, when Bree goes to choose her math club elective, it’s fully booked. As a math lover who can’t swim, she’s crushed to hear that the only elective left is swim 101.
At first, Bree avoids getting in the water, but after a near-drowning in her housing complex, an elderly neighbor (who used to be part of her swim team) decides to coach Bree. Bree gets so good that she joins her swim team, but can the team get past the drama and win?
This is a brilliant graphic novel. I especially enjoyed the experience because I didn’t know much about the story before I started reading and the author just takes readers on a realistic, enjoyable ride with a protagonist they can root for. Bree is shy and anxious. She overthinks everything and paralyzes herself with an overbearing internal monologue that readers can see as black thought bubbles. Her dad is a single father juggling work and caring for Bree on top of their new move. Still, he’s a capable father and doesn’t neglect her, which is so nice.
I LOVED watching Bree to learn to swim. The illustrations were gorgeous and Ms. Etta is a pro. She teaches Bree to be patient and to get comfortable in the water, which can be hard for new swimmers with a fear of water. I also enjoyed seeing the history of Black people and swimming from Ms. Etta’s story. Bree’s team has a strong rivalry with a private school swim team and some of the girls on that team are quite mean and condescending. But Bree and the other girls eventually get their team together and I liked watching that happen.
Finally, Ms. Etta’s narrative arc was too adorable! I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s so sweet and I know readers will love it.
Overall: Swim Team
Swim Team is a highly engaging graphic novel about swimming, Black history (and why many Blacks don’t swim), and friendship. The illustrations are well done, including detailed swim coaching scenes. This will also appeal to fans of historical fiction as the book includes a sweet connection to the past in Ms. Etta. Sweet, immersive, and compulsively-readable — fans of Jerry Craft’s New Kid and Varian Johnson’s Twins will love this one.