Swim That Rock, by John Rocco and Jay Primiano;
Candlewick Press: Somerville, Massachusetts,
If you want a book with daring adventures and even pirates (gasp), then Swim That Rock, by John Rocco and Jay Primiano, would be the perfect book for you to cozy up on the couch with. The book zooms in on Jake Cole, whose life is about to change drastically. After his father’s disappearance/ assumed death, Jake walks out of his house with a motive— a knife with his father’s initials was left in his gate, and he must find the person who left it. He runs into this man, who gives him only the name Captain. Captain is wearing “rubber boots, worn jeans, and a red flannel shirt… (with) black hair… matted across his forehead.” He leads Jake on a semi-legal journey, which earns Jake 300 dollars. But this is just the beginning. Jake and his mother, along with their friends Gene, Tommy, and Darcy, must earn 10,000 dollars in one month or lose their restaurant and move to Arizona—which is most certainly not on Jake’s to-do list. Either by quahogging or by the Captain’s methods, Jake knows he must save his restaurant.
One of the best parts of the book, in my opinion, is when Jake almost injures himself to save someone’s equipment—a person whom, chances are, he will never see again. When this guy, Paul, drops his brand-new equipment into the water, he immediately and dejectedly gives up. Seeing this, Jake jumps into the water to help Paul retrieve his equipment, almost killing himself after getting tangled in an anchor line. When Jake retrieves the equipment and gives it to Paul, Paul offers him money, which Jake refuses. Although it may seem kind of weird, as I am a thirteen-year-old, I have done the same thing. While shoveling my driveway, I watched my neighbor struggling to shovel her driveway across the road. I felt a pang of pity and went over to assist her. She pulled out her wallet, and I told her that I wouldn’t take it from her because people had shoveled my driveway for me, so I was just paying it forward.
I cried while reading about Mary, the homeless woman. She had lived on the beach for seven years. Once she saw Jake on the beach she called home. She gave him a quarter and told him to call his mother. He originally said he couldn’t take her money, but she forced him to. He turned around to thank her, but she was gone. I couldn’t take it—it reminded me of the story in the Bible where the poor woman who gave a little but gave it all truly gave more than the people who gave a lot but had so much more.
After reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder if there are people throughout the world who are in hard situations like Jake. I know there are, and I hope everything works out for them—short term and long term.
This book would be perfect for anyone from the ages of eleven to fifteen. I feel that anyone who hunts/fishes regularly would have an easier time understanding this book—still, though, it is good for anyone who likes strong protagonists who do not shrink in times of danger.