Caterpillars Can’t Swim
Liane Shaw, Second Story Press (MARCH) Softcover $13.95 (246pp), 978-1-77260-053-7
Caterpillars Can’t Swim is an encouraging story about what’s possible if teens choose to accept the people around them.
The presumably small thinking within a small riverside town may have disastrous consequences in Liane Shaw’s Caterpillars Can’t Swim, a coming-of-age story that encourages celebrating one’s differences.
With his flaming red hair and use of a wheelchair, Ryan stands out from other teens, but his unflappable attitude has always kept him safe. His best friend, Cody, is a jock and a fellow swim team member; Ryan stays under the radar of bullies and bigots. That is, until he witnesses the near drowning of a classmate. His decision to rescue Jack propels them both into the spotlight.
Jack is certain that he is the only gay teenager in town, and he’s terrified of what might happen if his secret gets out. Ryan promises to stay silent, initiating a friendship that leads them both in unexpected directions.
The novel grapples with heavy and familiar teen issues, including prejudice and selfacceptance. Ryan is an able narrator whose seemingly superhuman act is mirrored in his