cover image Deep Water

Deep Water

Jamie Sumner. Atheneum, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-6659-3506-7

Twelve-year-old Tully Birch attempts to set a record as the youngest swimmer to complete the Godfather swim, a 12.1-mile trek across Lake Tahoe, in this carefully crafted verse novel by Sumner (Maid for It). Though the endeavor was originally Tully’s mother’s idea, she abandons the family months before the planned swim. Tully hopes Mom will return to celebrate once Tully completes her clandestine swim, which her best friend Arch Novak plans to post online. Arch also serves as navigator, kayaking beside Tully to pace, monitor, and encourage her, as well as intercept increasingly worried texts from both their parents. If all goes as planned, the duo will be safely across the lake by lunchtime. But a lot can happen during a six-hour expedition. Sumner compassionately examines the effects that living with a parent managing mental health challenges can have on a child (“The mind is the biggest/ danger of all./ My mother taught me that”). The spare text deftly mirrors the push-and-pull rhythm of a swimmer in open water, while lengthier poems emphasize memories and harsh realities. Tully and Arch cue as white. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)