Juvenile Ann Turner Learning To Swim

ISBN 13: 9780439153096

Learning To Swim

3.83 avg rating
( 287 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780439153096: Learning To Swim

A series of poems convey the feelings of Annie, a six-year-old girl whose sense of joy and security at the family's summer house is shattered when an older boy who lives nearby sexually abuses her.

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Review:

Ann Turner's lyrical Learning to Swim will resonate with any adult or teenager who knows the shame and confusion of sexual molestation. Her memories of a family summer vacation keep coming back "like a skunk dog / on the porch / whining to get in." For Turner, telling her story to the world is what sets that skunk dog running. Divided into three sections, "sailing," "sinking," and "swimming," the book chronicles a holiday trip through the eyes of a very young girl--small enough to use a pink swimming ring in Dresser's Pond, play dress-up, and run races. It's Kevin, an older boy from down the street, with the "hands that grab," who takes her upstairs under the pretense of reading to her ("a secret time for us / and never, ever tell"), and she doesn't even know she can say no. In searingly simple language, Turner walks us through the little girl's forever-altered world, past the place where the truth comes out and healing can begin. (Ages 13 and older) --Karin Snelson

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

big enough

We are packing the car
to go to the summerhouse
everything is in bits and pieces.
Nicky and I are fighting
over the seat but I
am not moving,
I am sitting on my pink
swimming ring that Daddy says
I don't need anymore
because I
am big enough,
old enough,
and fast enough
to swim on my own.

i shout when i win

We are running races
in the meadow
with the kids from down
the street-Kevin, Lonny, Angie-
legs pumping,
hands swinging,
my feet blur
as I pull ahead of
everyone
my breath works
my heart works
my legs work
and I shout
when I win.

i am hiding

I am hiding in
their garage, the oily one
with the dented car,
and Kevin is running past,
looking for me
with hands that grab,
and Lonny is looking, too,
with his fat wavery lips
like worms that want
to squish on my cheeks,
and they say it's a game
but I am shivery
in the garage
with the smell of oil
all around.

i didn't even know

"I'll read to you,"
Kevin whispers,
"a secret time for us
and never, ever tell."
He takes my hand
and leads me up the stairs.
But in my hot, yellow room
the book falls to the floor
and he jams his hands
inside of me
and takes out his private parts
that I didn't ever know
could look so huge and strange,
telling me to touch him
in a hard, breathless voice,
and I didn't even know
I could say
no.

my dolls know

I am holding it all
inside like when I am sick
and running to find a bathroom
the words are crowding behind
my lips bursting to get out
so bad my lips ache
but I can't. You said no
not ever not nohow
and you bunched your fist
in my face.
But my dolls know,
Jenny, Amanda, and Fuchsia.
At night
I tell them what you did
and they are sad for me
with their wide-open eyes
and surprised mouths.

i thought a secret

I thought a secret was
a cookie hidden in a hand,
like the one you hold now
as you lead me up the stairs.
My feet drag
they know what is waiting
at the top
but I am too small
to say no
only my body is so
slow it is waiting
for someone to
notice
I am going away.

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