Friday, April 8, 2011

Swallow / Tonya Plank

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Chick lit/Literary Fiction

Approximate word count: 95-100,000

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon or B&N store


Like the protagonist of Swallow, Tonya Plank worked as a criminal appeals attorney in New York City for many years. She’s considered an expert in ballroom dancing, having danced competitively for many years. For more information, visit the author’s web site.


Sophie is just starting out in her career as a criminal appeals attorney. Life seemed almost perfect for the upwardly mobile Sophie until she started getting a sensation like she had a ball stuck in her throat. She couldn’t breathe, talk, and could barely eat. Try facing a panel of appeals judges thinking you’re going to choke to death on the spot.

Swallow has been the recipient of several awards. These include best regional fiction in the 2010 Independent Publisher Awards (IPPYs).


I’ve put Swallow in the, “it’s not you, it’s me” file. I think that says more about me, or at least the kind of book I enjoy most, than it says about Swallow. Plank’s writing style (her “writer’s voice” as people like saying) works well. The major characters were well defined and, in the case of Sophie, I liked her immediately. The premise of the story and plot is good. On a purely objective level – at least as close as I can get - this book has it all.

However, at a certain point I wanted to stop reading. What I found is Sophie was starting to irritate me. It seemed as though she was spending more time trying to hide her problem than finding out what was causing it and how to get it fixed. In fairness, she did try somewhat, but with no success. Eventually Sophie reaches the same place I hadd, and reacted the way I was hoping she would, it just took her a lot longer to get there. As I’ve been thinking about it I realized I once did the same thing as Sophie, in my case putting off getting additional medical attention when the initial treatments weren’t working. Maybe the problem was I saw something of myself in Sophie, and didn’t like what I was seeing.


Globus Hystericus was Sophie’s eventual diagnosis if you’re interested in seeing what Google will uncover about it. It appears the causes can vary, some physical, some not.

Format/Typo Issues:

There were a small number of typos, wrong word usage, or grammar issues.

Rating: **** Four stars


Beth said...

I think this falls into the category of reviewing is a subjective business. I read this book and really enjoyed it. I do understand what you're saying, but that wasn't an issue for me. I felt like the character was under so much stress at the time she was just trying to keep her head above water. And she was seeing a doctor, he just wasn't helping. In any event, I thought this was one of the better indie books I've read and I am looking forward to the author's next one.

And for all you cynics out there, no, I am not the author, a friend of the author, or a relative of the author. But I did read the book, enjoyed it, and recommended it to several friends who also read it and enjoyed it.

Marion said...

The "star" system in ratings is especially subjective even if there's a rubric for how stars are rewarded. Stars are common in movie reviews, but their use with book reviews is more recent. No fan of a book is going to be satisfied with less than a 5-star, despite the subjectivity acknowledged. I know they are de rigueur on the Amazon site, but as a reader, they don't really add to my review experience. I'd rather the reviewer just say it with words -- which Big Al does, quite elegantly.

Chris Rhatigan said...

"Maybe the problem was I saw something of myself in Sophie, and didn’t like what I was seeing."

Wow, that's about as mature and honest of a thought I've seen in a review in a long time.

Vicki said...

Swallow is on my to-read list.

BigAl, your comment about wanting to stop reading at a certain point gave me pause for thought, but then your honest reflection on why you felt that way makes me want to read the book even more. A great review.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? The book is titled 'Swallow' and the front cover is a lady with a pearl necklace. Am I the only one who noticed the undertones there?