cover image Alex in Rome CL

Alex in Rome CL

Tessa Duder. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $13.95 (166pp) ISBN 978-0-395-62879-9

This sequel to In Lane Three, Alex Archer continues the saga of the New Zealand swimmer as Alessandra arrives in Rome to compete in the 1960 Olympics. Intimidated by her older, more experienced rivals, 15-year-old Alex undergoes a week of intensive training, yet manages to find enough time to become better acquainted with Tom, an intriguing fellow New Zealander who is studying opera in Italy. Because Alex and Tom take turns narrating the chapters, their growing intimacy comes across as inevitable, even unremarkable. Indeed, by the time the games begin, Alex and Tom have become fast friends, and Tom shares the excitement and glory when Alex wins the bronze. The book's last 60 pages, which recount blossoming in the aftermath of victory, are anticlimactic. More memorable are New Zealander and onetime champion swimmer Duder's descriptions of the Games and her portrayals of dedicated athletes who experience a mixture of hope and fear as they strive toward their personal best. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)