Surviving High School

Surviving High School

Competitive swimming is Emily's whole life as she enters high school. Gotta keep up her grades to stay eligible, gotta keep her race times fast to stay on top. But what if there's more to life than this?

Her dad is the high school swim coach, just as he was when her older sister was at Twin Branches, before she died in the car crash. There's Sara's name on the state records plaque with her national record time for the backstroke - a lot to live up to, a goal for Emily to beat.

She'll have to beat Dominique, too, who's just a trace faster on freestyle and backstroke, just a bit slower than Em in breaststroke and butterfly, way beyond anyone else at school in mean-girl remarks, nicknaming her "Swimbot" on their first day of varsity practice. That article in Swimmers' World magazine comparing the girls as future Olympians just adds fuel to the fire.

Emily's entire life is optimized for swim racing - nutrition intake, sleep hours, strength training - and there's no room for anything else. Handsome Ben starts paying attention to her, but he just can't understand why she doesn't have time to see him outside school...sigh.

Some things just don't make sense at school, though. Why does senior Nick avoid Emily because she looks so much like her late sister, who never had time for a boyfriend? Could Emily possibly squeeze in a little time with Ben between her honors classes and the ever-increasing demands for perfection from Coach/Dad? Will she swim through her freshman year or sink from the weight of everything?

This first YA novel from screenwriter/author Max Doty reflects his experience as game writer for the related mobile game, but stands alone as a story of big demands on young athletes - are all the choices theirs to make?

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at

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