Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.
All of Maggie's focus and free time is spent swimming. She's not only striving to earn scholarships—she's training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi's already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed. And it's not until Maggie's away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the "typical" high school experience she's missed by being in the pool.
No one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?
Coming Up For Air will tuck well into the summer tote or backpack with swimming, competing, and coming of age mixed with a friends to lovers YA romance.
Coming Up For Air could do alright standalone as can all the books in the Hundred Oaks series, I suspect. I’ve only read three and each were not in order though I did just fine. Now that said, the first couple and their friends and family play roles in the later books so you can see how the past teens turn out as adults.
Coming Up For Air is not particularly angsty or complex. It flows nice and easy, but read fast for me. It reads almost like a journal though not dry and boring, at all. It’s told first person from Maggie’s perspective.
Maggie is the narrator and so the reader learns what life as a teen Olympic hopeful is like as well as how Maggie learns to deal with a close friend’s betrayal and subsequent rivalry in the pool, to understand and accept herself and that life happens at its own pace, and to navigate the world of competition sports balanced with the rest of life.
Maggie can get stuck inside her head, which usually annoys me to high heaven when reading 1st Person POV, but it really worked for me this time. She overthinks things and has the idea that everything is about planning, training, and executing like it is in the pool and doesn’t get that you can’t push attraction or relationships or control whether someone will like you and be your friend or not.
Speaking of disappointment with friends, if I had a niggle with this book it was that mean girl thing Roxy was doing that seemed bigger than trying to be the top female state high school swimmer. It was never explained and just sort of faded away. Maybe that’s the point- sometimes the loss of friendships and people acting ugly never get explained or resolved.
There is also the interesting element that this is about kids who must sacrifice for their sport because they want to be the best and compete at the highest levels. It was interesting getting an inside look at that side of things. Maggie and her athlete friends never get a normal high school life whether it is school schedule, social life, or even food choices. They always have to decide if they really want it bad enough and other kids and people don’t understand
And, I’m just guessing, but I think the world of swimming was depicted rather well both at the competitions and behind the scenes in practice.
Incidentally, Coming Up For Air was a great handling of parents and other adults. Maggie’s dad and mom both got some good scenes with her. Two scenes with her dad jumped out at me- one hilarious (dads and condom shopping make for an utterly humiliating experience) and one poignant (talking life, competitions, and love). Levi’s family was very different, but like Maggie, he could count on them. His dad left his mom, but he lives with his mom and his Dutch grandparents. And it is so fun that Jordan Woods the heroine from book one is Maggie’s high school health teacher and an athlete mentor for her.
As to the romance, it is a big part of the story since Maggie naively propositioned her best friend, Levi, who has been sexually active to teach her about getting with guys. It had all the awkwardness to make it authentic and the right amount of stops and starts to provide a solid conflict and developed romance. While Maggie is learning and maturing, Levi is as well. They are good together as friends, but I enjoyed seeing it grow into more.
YA Warnings: Language n/a, Violence n/a, Sex moderate. Recommend to mid- older teens and adults.
All in all, it was another fantastic outing into the Hundred Oaks sporty YA contemporary romance series. Definitely a great choice for a good coming of age.
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