"Like the adults in Rick Moody's Ice Storm," the central couple in this novel of 1970s suburbia are remote alcoholics. "Love was something distant that retired to a room on the second floor," Sarah, he 16-year-old narrator, says, referring to her stay-st-home yet absentee mother. This is a woman who makes a divot in the soil for her drink glass while tending her roses...This earnest debut centers on Sarah as she tunnels through new depths of loneliness...moving."
"Keener’s prose is spectacular, almost poetic. I found myself rereading many of the passages just to experience the beauty of her written word. She gives the reader the gift of a wonderful, honest, coming-of-age story. At just under 300 pages it is not a long read, but one that will resonate. "
“vivid…dreamlike quality. Keener's evocation of a young woman coming into her own is … moving.”
"Keener’s observations perfectly capture a certain kind of 1970s adolescence: the adults who tried too hard, the sudden appearance of a joint when in the presence of older cousins, the way a grownup party could spin from fun to disturbing in a blink. Most exhilaratingly, she taps into the thrilling moments when a girl of 16 can see her future, whether in music or books or a boy’s smile. Sarah watches her mother’s rose garden after her death. Like her children, some “bloomed haphazardly while some wilted,’’ a living symbol of what goes on, no matter what."
"Rooted in personal sorrow, this memorable debut will strike a universal chord with readers: "Life was full of befores and afters."
"Keener understands deeply that scene writing creates powerful moments for her characters. We learn of Sarah’s irritation, fear, reticence, and desire not through discussion, but through her actions and interactions with others. And Keener’s writing is lovely; she manages to build sentences that are both precise and ornate. While Keener’s Night Swim tells of a girl who has lost her bearings, her hold on her novel is both assured and poised."
"Jessica Keener's debut novel Night Swim is a masterfully told tale. Dysfunctional family dynamics are revealed in language evocative and honest, and her characters so well-drawn they could be our own kin.
The emotional depth of this novel has me constantly recommending it to friends in book clubs."
About Night Swim
"Set in 1970's Boston high-society, Night Swim tells the tale of the Kunitz family, who hide their deep tensions behind a shimmering facade of parties and affluence before tragedy breaks their stable dance."
More than a hundred feature articles published in The Boston Globe and other national magazines. Google my name as Jessica Keener or Jessica Brilliant Keener