Learning to Swim (Hearts Out of Water #1)

Young Adult

When Cora's parents whisk her away to a small seaside town after graduation, their not-so-hidden purpose is to give her time to accept the privileged life they've chosen for her to lead.  But the summer Cora spends with some of the local residents has more effect on her than anyone expected.  Ronan, a local boy, and Mrs.O'Leary, an old woman with knowing eyes and crazy stories, slowly open her eyes to what's beyond the materialistic and shallow world that she's known until now.  Amid ancient Irish legends of selkies and modern small-town legends of missing children and lost loves, Cora begins to accept that her life is about to change in more ways than one.

This was a fabulous beginning to a new Young Adult fantasy series!  The legends are old, but the content is brand new and fascinating.  Darker undertones give a feeling of gravity to this story, and yet Cora's coming-of-age summertime retains the innocence of youth. The romance between Cora and Ronan is slow building and sweet, and told alongside the odd friendship with Mrs. O'Leary, it rounds out the plot, giving this book a feeling of fullness. It's not a light read though, as it is full of introspection and melancholy, and the ending leaves the reader hanging on for the next book to finish off the story. Cora's life-altering summer sets off an exciting series of events full of mystery, folklore, and romance!

Nicole Duke