Swim the Fly by Don Calame
Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop, always set themselves a summer-time goal. This year’s? To see a real-live naked girl for the ﬁrst time. As far as Matt is concerned, they’d have better luck ﬁnding the lost city of Atlantis. But seeing a girl in the buff starts to seem like child’s play compared to the other summertime goal Matt sets for himself: to swim the 100-yard butterﬂy (the hardest stroke known to God or man) in order to impress Kelly West, the hot new girl. So what if he can’t manage a single lap, let alone four? He’s got the whole summer to perfect his technique. What could possibly go wrong? (courtesy of Goodreads)
Swim The Fly was definitely not what I expected. I read it after seeing a fabulous review on Steph Su Reads' site. The basic plot point revolves around three boys' summertime goal to see a live naked girl. The title comes from Matt, the main character's, personal goal to swim the 100-m butterfly at the swim team championships. This ambition is cheapened somewhat by the fact that he only did it to impress his crush, Kelly.
I assumed that Swim The Fly would be crude and gross. And parts of it were. But it was uniformly hilarious.
I laughed until tears came out of my eyes over numerous chapters. I kept having to stop and re-read the book to my husband. I even called my parents and read portions of the book to them. I particularly loved Grandpa's gift of the kitten to Mrs. H; Matt's introduction to Ulf (the sadistic swim instructor); the Clamato classic; and the protein powder/laxative incident in the locker room.
I was also surprised by the underlying lessons and sweetness behind the hilarity. Matt and his friends are geeky, immature, hormone-crazed boys, but they are also loyal friends. Matt is a good son, grandson, and brother. I like how he says that he hates his brother until he does something that just makes him remember how much he loves him. It seems so realistic. Matt gets to know his crush, Kelly, and her friend, Valerie, throughout the summer. He learns what really is important in a girlfriend. He also learns the value of hard-work and just why swimming the fly is something beyond impressing a girl. I loved the ending of the book, so much so that I even teared up a bit (but then again, I cry at commercials for dog food). By the end of the summer, Matt is beginning to become a man. While I wouldn't want to date a 15-year-old Matt, I think the man he'll become in a few years will be someone really special.
This is a great read for reluctant readers, especially boys. Matt, Sean, and Cooper's hijinks will keep anyone interested. Even better, the book is much like a series of short stories. There are very distinct scenes (perhaps because the author is a screenwriter). It is easy for someone to pick this up and read a chapter at a time and not feel lost.
Rating: 4 / 5