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Swimming Lessons    by Mary Alice Monroe order for
Swimming Lessons
by Mary Alice Monroe
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

It has been five years since Toy Sooner has called the Isle of Palms home. She arrived as a young pregnant teenager fleeing from an abusive relationship with her boyfriend Darryl. She was soon taken in as a caregiver to Olivia Rutledge. Miss Lovie, as she was known to her friends, preferred to live in her beach house rather than her stately mansion in Charleston. She loved nature, the ocean, and the loggerhead turtles that returned every May to nest on the beach. She founded The Turtle Team, a group of woman who guarded the nests so the eggs could hatch and then assisted the babies to the ocean. The Turtle Lady was another name she wore with pride.

Toy grew up under the guidance of Miss Lovie. She became one of the family and grew close to Miss Lovie's daughter Cara. She soon learned to love the ocean and wild life in this small seaside community. Now, five years later, Olivia Rutledge has passed away and Toy and her daughter Lovie live in the family beach house. Toy has put herself through school and is working at the local aquarium as a marine biologist. She has had help from Cara and her husband, and many friends along the way. Without their support, she would never have made it. Working at the aquarium Toy starts dating a fellow co-worker, Ethan. He is everything Darryl was not - kind, gentle and caring. Toy learns that Darryl has been released from prison and has come back to pick up the pieces. Tensions rise and Toy fears that everything she has worked so hard for, including the custody of her daughter, is at stake.

But just as Toy sees the injured turtles she takes in to rehabilitate grow strong and swim back to the ocean, we see Toy grow stronger and swim towards a new, happier life. Once again Mary Alice Monroe has returned us to all the characters we grew to love in The Beach House. She has woven family, friendships, and hardships together for an enjoyable sequel in Swimming Lessons.

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