Girl Out of Water by Nat Luurtsema
Published June 2, 2016 by Walker Books
Source: the publisher
Rating: 3 stars
From the blurb: I am Lou Brown: social outcast, precocious failure, 5'11" and still growing. I was on the fast track to Olympic stardom. Now I'm training boys too cool to talk to me. In a sport I've just made up. In a fish tank. My life has gone weird very quickly.
Girl Out of Water is Nat Luurtsema's debut novel. Fifteen year old Lou Brown lives in Essex with her mum and older sister. Her parents divorced when she was younger, but her father has moved back in after losing his job. Lou was an Olympic hopeful, but after she came last at her swimming trial, her dreams have been squashed. She's spent three weeks moping about at home and now has to return to school, sans best friend Hannah. Hannah qualified and has gone on to High Performance Training Camp, leaving Lou to face school alone.
Swimming was Lou's life, she swam everyday, she and Hannah talked about it all the time, and she dreamed of making the Olympic team, so it's easy to feel for her when she doesn't make it into the training camp. Lou's lonely because for years she and Hannah have been a duo, so she attempts to make new friends but finds it harder than expected. The one other person she always relied on, Debs, her swim coach, has no time for her now, which absolutely crushes Lou. And the other girls on the swim team are also giving Lou a bit of a hard time, making school miserable for her.
It's always great to read a YA novel where the protagonist has a strong interest, whether that's in music, art, or a sport. It adds another dimension to a family or romance-oriented story. It was fun to see Lou grow more confident as she coaches some school mates in a version of water
aerobics crossed with synchronised swimming, as well as the relationship she slowly develops with Gabe.
The story tackles multiple plot lines and consequently had a lot going on, and while I liked the inclusion of Hannah's story dealing with mental health and eating disorders, it felt a little sidelined and I wish she'd been in the story more, as opposed to being away at camp. The relationship between Lou and her dad was lovely, it was great to see parents portrayed in a positive way, they were very present in her life.
Girl Out of Water is funny, clever, and sweet. Lou is a character with a bright personality and she really shines during this story. Her life is a bit of a mess, albeit a very entertaining one. It's a book with heart and I would definitely be up for a sequel.
Thank you to Walker Books for my copy.
US readers; look out for this book published as Goldfish.
This is a fun cover and I couldn't wait to paint nails to match.
I started with a base of Natio Sunflower and used acrylic paint for the details.