April 3, 2017 Night Swimming is a teen romance with a difference

There’s a love triangle brewing in this country town…

Life can be tough when you’re one of only two teenagers in a small town, your best mate’s a guy and you’re feeling quietly lesbionic.

Kirby Arrow lives with her mum, cousin, favourite goat and grandfather – who’s becoming more and more forgetful – while tackling an unofficial carpentry apprenticeship and wondering what her future holds. Her bestie Clancy, whose parents run the town’s Chinese restaurant, is doing Year 12 by correspondence and dreaming of cabaret stardom.

Then, one day, there’s a new family in Alberton. And they have a gorgeous daughter, Iris, who is about to shake things up between the besties – just as their new Indian restaurant threatens the culinary monopoly. Meanwhile, Kirby has another shake-up relating to her father, who hasn’t been on the scene for a long time now.

A lot of books about gay teenagers are full of angst and hateful family/friends, but Kirby’s sexuality is just one part of her character. She’s drawn as conflicted about her life, making semi-random decisions and stuck in certain mindsets about the way things should be – like a lot of teenagers can be.

It helps that the supporting characters are all multifaceted, rather than stereotypically “Mum” or “dopey cousin”, building a rich setting for her to exist in. Alberton seems like a friendly place, so you can see why she might not be stinging to leave for the big smoke.

Night Swimming is the third book from Steph Bowe, who has been pumping out novels since she was a teenager (she’s 23 now).

If you’re interested in being a writer yourself, you might want to check out her blog, where she discusses issues relevant to younger wordsmiths. Like the ever-burning question: do you need Life Experience in order to write?

Night Swimming, Text Publishing, $19.99

Shane Cubis
is a contributor to A•STAR