Matt, Coop, and Sean, best pals, have been friends for years. Each summer they set a goal; this summer it’s to see a real, live girl- naked. On top of that, Matt volunteers to step in and swim the butterfly for their swim team in order to impress hot new team member Kelly West. From the first page to the last, this book has one hilarious scenario after another. The poor boys can’t get anything right- every scheme lands them in hot water or a tight spot. In the end, Matt, at least, has learned a lesson or two about hanging in there and doing the right thing.
Calame, D. (2009). Swim the fly. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
This was a laugh-out-loud book for me. I’m a sucker for slightly crude, potty humor- I admit it; this book had plenty of it! There is a scene early on in the book where Matt the protagonist of the story and his friends dress up like girls to get into the girls locker room at the community center. Unfortunately, Matt has mistakenly ingested a large quantity of laxatives which he thought was a protein powder shake. Just as they arrive at their destination, the laxative begins to take effect- or maybe revenge would be a better term. The next thing Matt knows he is making some very embarrassing sounds in front of the very girl he wants to impress that summer and then has to race to a toilet, barely making it in time. These sorts of scenes abound in this book.
However, this book is not just funny, it does have redeeming factors. Matt learns lessons along the way and makes an effort to become a better person. The lessons are not preachy and I think some teen readers may not even notice the message that Mr. Calame is trying to impart since it is pretty subtle- but it is there.
I think the main reason this book works is because Mr. Calame is a former screen writer; he makes the stories he is telling in the book come to life. The dialogue is also believable and suitable for the situations. All in all, this is an entertaining and worthwhile read.
“Calame has a screenwriting background, and it shows—his hilarious debut resembles nothing so much as the crude-yet-insightful comedies of producer Judd Apatow. See if this rings a bell: three 15-year-old buddies make a pact to see a naked girl before the summer is over and in the process mire themselves in increasing trouble and constant humiliation. All three are on the summer swim team, and, in a desperate attempt to impress the superhot new girl, Matt agrees to swim the dreaded butterfly at championships, despite the fact that he can barely tread water. At the same time, he’s dealing with his horny grandpa, a sadistic swim instructor, and his pals’ wacky schemes to catch a glimpse of bare skin, which includes dressing up like girls and entering a women’s locker room. That would’ve worked if it weren’t for the accidental dose of laxative . . . well, you get the idea. Although Calame underuses his moments of poignancy, teen readers will have a blast puzzling out the creative vulgarisms. “Pants hamster” is just the beginning. Grades 9-12.”
D. Kraus. (2009, March 15). [Review of the book Swim the fly, by D. Calame]. Booklist 105(14), 55. Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com
I think this would be a great choice as a Guys Read book group selection. Although I think it would most definitely be best suited for high school boys and it would probably be best facilitated by a male staff member since this book does have some crude and potentially embarrassing content. I don’t know how it would go down in a mixed audience.