An ARC copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
I really wasn't sure what to expect before reading this book. It sounded like a sort of general young adult contemporary about a budding relationship. I quickly found out it was nothing but general. The Silent Swan is an extremely touching and unique story about a high school student council president (Gabe AKA Mr. Popular) and his non-friendship with classmate Tamryn. At first I thought Gabe would be a jerk, a sort of typical popular baseball type jock. Nothing could be further from that. Gabe's a genuinely great guy. He's got a huge family (all brothers) and he was brought up well. It was so refreshing to see the two main characters be responsible, moral, good kids! I can't tell you how awesome it was. They felt real though, they weren't flawless and you could tell they were in high school, just super mature. I liked that a lot.
In fact one of the things that had me so engrossed in the story (I read it in one day! 500+ pages!) were the characters. I never played baseball in the strict sense. Of course I've played games for fun, but besides the basics I don't know the game well. There is a lot of baseball terminology but I could follow it because the characters made it easy. Gabe was the all star baseball player who played baseball and it was his life during the season. Tamryn's father was a pro baseball player and her and her brothers play as a family. I think because the characters were so relatable and easy to understand-- it was only natural that I could follow their main passion -- baseball. Gabe was amazing. I loved being in his head. He's just a genuinely wonderful young man and I loved reading about him and his family. Tam was a really complex character. I felt like I was always figuring her out and calculating things with her. Even up until the end I was not sure what she was hiding. She was an enigma, but she brought out the best in others' (most notably, Gabe).
I adored the development of Gabe's feelings for Tam. It wasn't like oh, they end up going to prom together and it ends happily ever after that. Prom was a mess (do they go together or not?). It was complicated, messy, and very real. I can't stress enough how real it felt. Life is so dang frustrating sometimes, and that frustration was a running theme in this book. The frustration of life, and the joys and sorrows as well. The hierarchy of high school was shown, but not in an extreme way. Yes, there was bullying and dishonesty-- but people were always standing up for it or being honest about the surrounding dishonesty. At least, Gabe and Tam were.
The only real critique I had was in the beginning of the book. The story just kind of gets dumped out super fast. I mean, character names and things happening so fast I couldn't make heads or tails of it. I was worried I'd feel behind the entire novel, constantly rereading pages trying to piece together a puzzle with some invisible pieces. However, once I got all the Printz boys straight (took a bit), and most of Gabe's friends and the Swanns' - the problem disappeared and I could follow nicely.
I loved the way things unfolded and the natural dialogue between all of the characters. I only have one brother, but reading this book gave me the feeling that I know exactly what it's like to live in a house full of boys. :) the strength of the sibling bond (by blood or foster care / adoption) was a prominent theme in this novel. I really hadn't thought of many of the things that were brought up. For instance, does the "system" encourage foster families to replace blood relations by not allowing the, to stick together or visit often? I could definitely see both sides of it, which I think was the authors' intention. We have Gabe's family who adopted and have totally integrated a stereotypically bad foster kid case, but then we have Tam and her family situation which is anything but stereotypical. Yet, st the end of the book we see high value in both. I really enjoyed that.
All in all; The Silent Swan was a solid, great contemporary Ya novel. I'll read anything this writer writes. I loved the epilogue and could even have done with a little more at the end. Just an extension. Another dinner, something. But maybe I'm just being greedy.
[ I recommend this book to people who enjoyed [book:The Sea of Tranquility|16151178]. It's a completely different story, but a love story at it's heart. ]