Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw

Caterpillars Can’t Swim by Liane Shaw

It has taken me awhile to review this book because I have several conflicted feelings about it. I think I will start with listing the pros and the cons as that will hopefully give a clear view of the problems. Some pros of this book include the positive image about have a disability. Ryan, who is the main character, is in a wheelchair but the story is not all about the fact that he has a disability, it is about him and all parts of his life. This story has some neat intersectionality story lines as it takes on ableism as well as sexism and homophobia. Some cons about this story is the fact that everything is a little bit too perfect and it gives an “off” feeling to the book. The characters feel one dimensional and the storyline is very simple. Everything falls into place a little too nicely and after finishing it I was left with a weird discontent feeling that made me wary to recommend it. The general premise of the story is that Ryan, who is on the swim team rescues Jack from the river. The only person who was there to see it was Ryan and the town has become skeptical of Jack  and his motives to be in the river. Ryan decides to befriend jack as he feels obligated too and soon it turns into a real friendship. Everything about this book feels very stark and fake and I would not recommend it. I really want to like it, but I have to trust my gut in saying that something is strange. Even after waiting a bit, time has not changed me opinions about this book. I think that some of this comes from the track record of the author, as many of her previous books have stereotypical roles for people with disabilities.

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