Swimming Between Worlds
From critically acclaimed writer Elaine Neil Orr, a Southern coming-of-age novel that sets three very different young people against the tumultuous years of the American Civil Rights movement.The lives of one young woman and two young men collide in a small neighborhood in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.Kate, a recent college graduate, is still reeling from the deaths of her beloved parents when the discovery of hidden letters forces her to re-examine everything she knew about her family. Tacker, a young engineering student and all-around boy-hero, has returned from a West African odyssey where he fell in love with the local culture but was sent home in shame. Kate's and Tacker's stories come together when, on the same day and in different moments, they encounter a young African-American man named Gaines. The relationship that develops between the three is complicated, as each one searches for love, freedom, and new beginnings.

Swimming Between Worlds Details

TitleSwimming Between Worlds
Author
ReleaseApr 1st, 2018
PublisherBerkley Books
ISBN-139780698406384
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Literature, American

Swimming Between Worlds Review

  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    NO SPOILERS..............just long! :)This is the first novel I’ve ever read by author Elaine Neil Orr. She’s a terrific writer...She has that spellbinding narrative-momentum talent down as great as all my favorite authors. I didn’t rush-read this book —- but it could be a page turner. I purposely pulled myself away to think and reflect. I thought about the first time I left the country. I was a straight-arrow type student at UC Berkeley in the 70’s - an ex-cheerleader -gymnasts- single white fe NO SPOILERS..............just long! :)This is the first novel I’ve ever read by author Elaine Neil Orr. She’s a terrific writer...She has that spellbinding narrative-momentum talent down as great as all my favorite authors. I didn’t rush-read this book —- but it could be a page turner. I purposely pulled myself away to think and reflect. I thought about the first time I left the country. I was a straight-arrow type student at UC Berkeley in the 70’s - an ex-cheerleader -gymnasts- single white female. Looking back, I sheltered myself ( straight-lace as I was) at one of the most liberal colleges with colorful street people in the country. So to visit countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, and India....it really ‘was’ a huge eye opening experience. I did not come back home the same person. Either does Tacker Hart in “Swimming Between Worlds”Elaine Neil Orr really understands her characters — their ages - their circumstances- their experiences- limitations - their passions and dreams. She makes them each interesting and not in spite of their flaws but because of them. She lets her story tell itself. Her three main characters- Tacker Hart - Kate Monroe- and Gaines Townson - each very different people - dealing with their own inner struggles -discover that shared humanity profoundly affects the course of each of their lives. Tacker Hart had finished his five year degree in architecture, school of design at the State College, in North Carolina, in 1957. Besides other honors and being a local star from his football days in High School - and ‘son’ of his dad’s grocery store-who was also well respected- Tacker was selected for a project in Nigeria, serving in the capacity of a graduate teaching assistant to produce a prototype for high schools to be built all across the country. Tacker ends up coming home early — but the story as to why should get you nice and ‘pissy-angry’ as it did me. You’ll meet Joshua, another guy on the project team, son of a higher-up for the United States embassy in Lagos. Joshua is a liar and a betrayer. Samual, Nigerian, on the other hand.... becomes a close friend with Tracker when he first arrived in Nigeria. He ate a ‘fresh’ pineapple for the first time in his life. I didn’t know that the custom in North Carolina in the late 50’s was canned pineapple. Tacker and Samual exchange aerograms- letters back and forth from North Carolina and Nigeria.By now they were moving into the 1960’s. When I was sitting and reflecting about this story.... I was remembering how long it took for those aerograms to arrive — it was harder to nourish global relationships compared with today .....but no less valuable. Tacker had a direct experience with Nigeria, and in ways he owned it for himself. When he got back home, besides managing his dad‘s grocery store, he listen to the BBC radio specifically to get all the news he could about Nigeria and he even bought his very first record by an African American musician: Ray Charles. Tracker was definitely “swimming between worlds” when he return home to his white side of the neighborhood.I often felt that Tacker was carrying the world on his shoulders. I admired him...and thought he was a mensch of a young man. Gaines Townson is African American. Tacker first meets him when he sells him a bottle of milk for a quarter. An unspoken bond develops between them after a disgusting incident. Gaines grew up with racial bigotry all around him .... but went to church and learned about civil disobedience and speaking to people about nonviolence.It doesn’t matter to me how many times I read about an activists in the civil rights movement civil rights - be at Martin Luther King, or Rosa Parks... The struggle for justice is still not over, so I allow myself to be jaded or arrogant as to “oh I’ve read these civil rights stories a dozen times”. GOOD STORYTELLING ALLOWS FOR THE HEART TO CONTINUE OPENING ON IMPORTANT TOPICS..... THIS BOOK DOES THAT!And then there is Kate Monroe.... The girl fixed herself a pimento cheese sandwich. You can laugh now. I’ve never eaten a pimento-cheese sandwich in my life....Do people like those little ‘red’ things? lolBeing more serious....(or not),... as this review is already much too long....Kate has her own inner-conflicting messages going on inside her head when we first meet her too. At least James - her college -pre-med doctor boyfriend and she ‘stop’ their letter writing before the book ends..... (you’ll see). Every girl has been teased with the perfect ‘catch’ at least once in her life ( mine was the son of Bank of America) -but when the heart won’t go there - it won’t go there.THIS IS A GREAT ENJOYABLE READ - THOUGHT PROVOKING with GORGEOUS PROSE! “So much could shift on small sentences, just a word, just the verb tense”. This would be a terrific book for High School kids to read too.....so don’t leave our bright students out. Young minds will enjoy this novel- as well as old farts like me. Whew.....Yikes....nothing retired about this review- forgive me if it was too long.I ENJOYED IT! Beautiful book cover too. I’d love to own the physical book. Now....for those phone calls and messages I owe everyone....’soon’!!!Thank You Netgalley, Berkley Publishing Group, and Elaine Neil Orr
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  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    This was a book that took me awhile to get into and some sections were so slow-burn that it took some effort to push forward and continue reading, but I’m glad I stuck with it because in the end I was rewarded with a good story and characters that are hard to forget. Set in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the late 1950s/early 1960s, the narrative revolves around 3 main characters: Tacker Hart, a gifted engineer and all-around popular boy-hero whose life is transformed after returning from a tri This was a book that took me awhile to get into and some sections were so slow-burn that it took some effort to push forward and continue reading, but I’m glad I stuck with it because in the end I was rewarded with a good story and characters that are hard to forget. Set in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the late 1950s/early 1960s, the narrative revolves around 3 main characters: Tacker Hart, a gifted engineer and all-around popular boy-hero whose life is transformed after returning from a trip to Nigeria; Kate Monroe, a young college graduate dealing with the loss of both her parents when a family secret she discovers in a letter threatens to tear her already fragile world further apart; and Gaines, a young African-American man whose separate encounters with both Tacker and Kate change the courses of their lives forever. The story is set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, only in its early stages here, yet so important in driving the course of the narrative forward. The author Elaine Neil Orr did a great job blending the historical context of the social unrest at the time that triggered the Civil Rights movement with the fictional story of Tacker and Kate’s complicated relationship and the difficult path they must take in order to find love. I also like the way the author developed the characters in the story, especially Tacker, as we were given the opportunity to delve deep into his thoughts as he tried to reconcile his experience in Nigeria with what he was seeing in his own community back home in Winston-Salem. Gaines’ impact on him was profound, as was the friendship of Samuel, one of the young Nigerian men Tacker met on his assignment, and to be honest, I enjoyed reading about these friendships more than Tacker’s at times conflicted love relationship with Kate. Perhaps this is because I wasn’t too fond of Kate due to her being so self-absorbed most of the time (which I did find a tad bit annoying in some scenes), but I think it also has to do with the story being written in a way where the reality of what was happening in society at the time and Tacker’s place in it trumped the love story, which was put more on the back burner. I guess in a way, this was mostly Tacker’s story and while Kate’s role was important to the story as well, I felt the significance was more in her character reflecting the attitude of society at the time when it came to issues of race and equality and how that attitude differed so greatly from Tacker’s. This was my first time reading Elaine Neil Orr’s work and I am definitely interested in reading more of her books. The writing was well-done and though I felt some parts were a little overwritten, that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all. There were also the themes of “water” and “swimming” that were huge parts of the book, though the author worked this into the story so well that I actually didn’t realize the subtle references throughout the book until I was nearing the end. My one complaint was that I sensed a certain level of emotional restraint in the telling of the story, reflected more significantly in some characters’ narratives (Kate for example) over others, and while this didn’t detract a whole lot from the events or how they unfolded in the story itself, it did affect the emotional impact that a story like this one should / could have had on its readers. The biggest example of this was in the ending, which was unexpected (and quite honestly a bit shocking), and I feel should have elicited a far more emotional response, but the way it was written felt a bit glossed over. With that said though, this was overall a thought-provoking read, another book that, despite its setting in an earlier time period, is very much timely, especially given everything happening in our world currently. Having grown up in the U.S. studying and reading about the Civil Rights movement primarily in history books, I appreciate the fact that books like this one help put into perspective the real-life impact of that history to ordinary lives – one of the aspects I love most about historical fiction. This one is definitely recommended!Received ARC from Berkley Books via Penguin First-to-read program.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    I think that the description of this book promised a lot more than the book delivered. It's not a coming of age story unless you come of age when you're 25 and no lives "collided" here.The book is set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, primarily in Winston-Salem, North Carolina although some of the story involves flashbacks to the time that Tacker Hart spent in Nigeria working as an engineer on a project to build schools. Tacker loved the time he spent in Nigeria and his descriptions of his time I think that the description of this book promised a lot more than the book delivered. It's not a coming of age story unless you come of age when you're 25 and no lives "collided" here.The book is set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, primarily in Winston-Salem, North Carolina although some of the story involves flashbacks to the time that Tacker Hart spent in Nigeria working as an engineer on a project to build schools. Tacker loved the time he spent in Nigeria and his descriptions of his time there and the people he met were some of my favorite parts of the book. After vague accusations of his "getting tangled up in the culture", Tacker was fired and sent back to his segregated hometown in disgrace. He was changed by his experience in Africa and after his return he no longer turns a blind eye to the Negroes in his town. This puts him at odds with seemingly all of the other citizens who are just fine with the existing "whites only" restrictions. Tacker hires Gaines, a young Negro man who has dropped out of Fisk to care for his mother and little sister, to work in the Hart family's grocery store. Gaines has the potential to be an interesting character, but unfortunately he makes only a brief appearance in the first half of the book and in the second half he exists only to introduce Tacker to sit-ins and the civil rights movement. Gaines is never developed as a person. However, the real weak link in the book for me was Kate Monroe, Tacker's former schoolmate with whom he pretty much immediately falls in love. I found Kate's presence in the book unnecessary. If the author wanted to show the slow evolution of someone who initially supports the racist status quo, she could have used Tacker's parents. Instead we get Kate and her really banal backstory about some letters her father wrote to her mother. There's also Kate's "should I or shouldn't I" relationship with her long distance boyfriend, creating the dreaded love triangle. I learned early in the book that I could skim through any chapter with Kate in it. This is a serious story, but without any real grit to it, and you can see the ending coming. There was also too much Kate. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    Normally I try to write reviews as soon as I read a book but this one affected me to the point that I had to wait a few days and think about the book before I could review it. It's about integration in Winston Salem NC in the early 60s. Even though I didn't live in the South during that time period, I have lived in a town close to WS for 40 years and have heard stories about the sit-ins at the Woolworth stores in Greensboro and WS. This wonderful well written book gave those events a human persp Normally I try to write reviews as soon as I read a book but this one affected me to the point that I had to wait a few days and think about the book before I could review it. It's about integration in Winston Salem NC in the early 60s. Even though I didn't live in the South during that time period, I have lived in a town close to WS for 40 years and have heard stories about the sit-ins at the Woolworth stores in Greensboro and WS. This wonderful well written book gave those events a human perspective.This novel is about the lives of three people. Tracker, a college graduate in architecture who spent 18 months in Nigeria on a special project. While he was there he made friends with the people in town and grew to love African culture. When he returned to NC, he started to question why black people didn't have the same rights - why they couldn't order food at a lunch counter or swim in a public swimming pool. His evolving views were not the norm for white people during this time period. Gaines is a young black college student who works for Tracker. Gaines is very involved in the sit-in movement and the social unrest of the times. Kate is a young woman who has just lost her mother and is unsure of what to do with herself. She and Tracker had known each other in high school and when they meet again, they both want to get to know each other better. Her views on racial issues reflected the attitudes of the white people during this time. Their lives all change as they are looking for change both in their own lives and in society.This is a wonderful well written book and I encourage everyone to read it to get a better perspective of life during this time period and how it continues to reflect what is going on in the US today.Thanks to the author for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Hoang Chi Truong
    January 1, 1970
    I received this Advance Reader Copy as a prize from Goodreads Giveaway Contest in 2017. The book is from Berkley, Penguin Random House. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wanted to leave a review for others to discover it. I believe that this book is especially important and timely not only for this month being February's Black History Month, but also for the racial inequality and tension that our nation is still experiencing in modern history.As a refugee from Vietnam since 1975, I appreciate l I received this Advance Reader Copy as a prize from Goodreads Giveaway Contest in 2017. The book is from Berkley, Penguin Random House. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wanted to leave a review for others to discover it. I believe that this book is especially important and timely not only for this month being February's Black History Month, but also for the racial inequality and tension that our nation is still experiencing in modern history.As a refugee from Vietnam since 1975, I appreciate learning about the US Civil Rights history and movement in this historical fictional with the author's beautiful portrayals of characters and geographic surrounding, the socio-political turmoils, and personal vignettes of those involved in this struggle. This is a thought provoking coming of age and a real-life complex love story of two main characters during the civil rights struggles in the US. I will miss them sorely now that I finished the book. Thanks to the author who meticulously crafting the relatable and complicated emotions as the characters worked into their adulthood and finding their voice and place in their world. It's visceral yet poetic, and a poignant story as she wove the inner conflicts, dreams, and fears for each of the main characters. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genre as I get glimpses into history without the dreadfully dried history books and classes.It's an enjoyable and timely read for February Black History Month as well as our current racial inequality and tension. I learned a lot of the history and highly recommend this book.
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  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Swimming between Worlds is told through the perspectives of Tacker and Kate, living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on the cusp of the civil rights movement. Tacker and Kate are young adults reeling from painful past experiences, each living on their own and starting out in careers as creative professionals. Tacker studies as an architect and earns a chance to help build a school in Nigeria, where he experie Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Swimming between Worlds is told through the perspectives of Tacker and Kate, living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on the cusp of the civil rights movement. Tacker and Kate are young adults reeling from painful past experiences, each living on their own and starting out in careers as creative professionals. Tacker studies as an architect and earns a chance to help build a school in Nigeria, where he experiences discrimination as a minority and is kicked out of the program in shame. Tacker returns to Winston-Salem and recognizes that discrimination exists at home against the African Americans there. He misses Nigeria and is unsure of how to navigate the professional networks in Winston-Salem, especially since he wants to influence deeply ingrained beliefs there about integration. He is reacquainted with Kate, whom he attended high school with. She is grieving the loss of both parents and finding her own influence as a local photographer. The author uses their budding relationship as a contrast against the simmering racial tensions of that time. Kate and Tacker's courtship is sweet and fairly innocent for young adults with their own apartments. They weren't rebels in that respect, just ordinary people reflecting the accepted social rules of their time. The way they dated reflected a simpler time. However, these ordinary people started to feel unsettled about the accepted social rules regarding integration, and therein lies the conflict of the book. This book examines what happened when those ordinary people started wrestling with their consciences.
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  • Patty
    January 1, 1970
    You know those books that you start and about a paragraph in you know you are in trouble? The kind of book that you will not be able to put down and all semblance of normal life will cease until you turn the last page? Swimming Between Worlds is one of those books. I knew before I turned to the second page that my day was shot. At least in regards to any plans I had beyond reading – because that is all I did. I didn’t even cook dinner – my husband was on his own.There are three main characters i You know those books that you start and about a paragraph in you know you are in trouble? The kind of book that you will not be able to put down and all semblance of normal life will cease until you turn the last page? Swimming Between Worlds is one of those books. I knew before I turned to the second page that my day was shot. At least in regards to any plans I had beyond reading – because that is all I did. I didn’t even cook dinner – my husband was on his own.There are three main characters in the book:Tacker who graduated from college with a degree in architecture, went to Nigeria to help build a series of schools but he runs afoul of the rules and is sent home. A bit adrift he ends up managing one of his father’s grocery storesKate who went to high school with Tacker but they didn’t really interact then. She has lost both of her parents and now owns her family home. She is a bit adrift and going through her family papers isn’t helping.Gaines is a young African American man living with Tacker’s family maid. He’s her nephew and she asks Tacker to hire him. This leads to more than one controversy. It’s the ’60s in South Carolina and race relations are not exactly friendly.These three come together in a time of change and racial tensions. All of their lives will be changed.The story is one that flashes between the main characters’ past and present. Each one is searching for something but they don’t know exactly what. Ms. Orr develops her characters slowly and patiently so that the reader really gets to know the people and get invested in their lives. Additionally the writing is so very descriptive that you don’t feel like you are reading. It’s one of those books, at least for me, where you feel like you are living in the middle of a movie in your head. These books are few and far between and are pure magic when you are lucky enough to read one.This book is definitely staying so that I can reread it some day. I’m sure I’ll find some nuances I missed this first time around. It’s not always an easy read as I’m sure you can imagine give that it deals with racial tensions. In that it is a book that is very on trend for the world in which we live today. Until we learn to live together as people and not as races we are just doomed to be constantly at war with ourselves. It would seem to me that by now we should understand this.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    Tacker Hart was a golden boy in his home town. A football star who went to college for architecture, he's returned with his tail all but between his legs after he's sent home from a collaborative job in Nigeria. Of course what Tacker hasn't told anyone is that he was sent home after essentially being accused of going native. Now, with no direction and no goal, he's taken over managing one of his father's grocery stores while he tries to figure out what to do next. Kate Monroe knew Tacker in high Tacker Hart was a golden boy in his home town. A football star who went to college for architecture, he's returned with his tail all but between his legs after he's sent home from a collaborative job in Nigeria. Of course what Tacker hasn't told anyone is that he was sent home after essentially being accused of going native. Now, with no direction and no goal, he's taken over managing one of his father's grocery stores while he tries to figure out what to do next. Kate Monroe knew Tacker in high school, everyone did. And when she runs into him in the grocery store, she hopes but doesn't expect to see him again. And when Kate finds old letters revealing a long held secret between her parents, Tacker is the one who offers her comfort. But Swimming Between Worlds isn't so much about Tacker and Kate and their relationship as it is about the flux their town is experiencing. Set in North Caroline in the late 50s, Tacker and Kate serve as good examples of a piece of the dynamic affecting the town, and the country, amid growing protest of segregation and separate rights. Tacker grew comfortable in Nigeria, even wondering if he was more comfortable - and certainly more happy - there than he is at home. And when he witnesses firsthand terrible treatment of a black man in front of his store one morning, he's left wondering why things have to be the way they are. Kate, meanwhile, is a good example of someone who hasn't really thought much about the circumstances. They are what they are and she hasn't had any reason to ponder over change until Tacker comes into her life. Elaine Neil Orr's latest is a vivid and vibrant character-driven tale of race relations and change. And thought it's set during the Civil Rights Era, it's certainly still both appropriately eye-opening and thought provoking today.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for my honest review. All my opinions are my own.----Swimming between worlds is a heart wrenching, giggle producing, love finding book that shows the side of the south in the late 50's and early 60's. It is about a white man who doesn't see color he just sees the heart of the person.It was a book I couldn't put down and cried when I finished it for more that one reason, we'll written and a must read! Just make sure you have some tissue.Definite I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for my honest review. All my opinions are my own.----Swimming between worlds is a heart wrenching, giggle producing, love finding book that shows the side of the south in the late 50's and early 60's. It is about a white man who doesn't see color he just sees the heart of the person.It was a book I couldn't put down and cried when I finished it for more that one reason, we'll written and a must read! Just make sure you have some tissue.Definitely a 10 star book
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  • Drema
    January 1, 1970
    This lyrical, evocative book is thoughtfully rendered. Tucker struggles to find his way in a South that is not as evolved as it could be in a time where not enough was done to make it so. His time in Nigeria has made him forget how dangerous the South can be for those who are considered different. He must decide who he is despite the prevailing attitudes. Orr lovingly carves out a story rich in detail drawn, apparently, from her own experiences growing up in Nigeria in the 1960’s. Thanks to Good This lyrical, evocative book is thoughtfully rendered. Tucker struggles to find his way in a South that is not as evolved as it could be in a time where not enough was done to make it so. His time in Nigeria has made him forget how dangerous the South can be for those who are considered different. He must decide who he is despite the prevailing attitudes. Orr lovingly carves out a story rich in detail drawn, apparently, from her own experiences growing up in Nigeria in the 1960’s. Thanks to GoodReads for this review copy.
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  • Debbie Lester
    January 1, 1970
    Author Elaine Neil Orr brings readers a novel set during the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960's. Swimming Between Worlds is part romance, part political drama. Racial tensions and segregation were at an all time high when three young people from different walks of life, come together in a way that will change their lives forever. Swimming Between Worlds is a compelling novel that will draw readers back in time and make them consider the question of race and how it relates to us today, Author Elaine Neil Orr brings readers a novel set during the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960's. Swimming Between Worlds is part romance, part political drama. Racial tensions and segregation were at an all time high when three young people from different walks of life, come together in a way that will change their lives forever. Swimming Between Worlds is a compelling novel that will draw readers back in time and make them consider the question of race and how it relates to us today, in a whole new way. A necessary novel!What I liked:Ok, i'll be the first to admit that most of the books I review do not generally have such an emotional and deep subject. Racial tension in America is still high and people view it through very different lenses. I grew up in the South and most likely see it differently than someone who is from say, New York, or even overseas. A book like this one by Elaine Neil Orr shines a light not only on what the country was going through during the height of the civil rights movement, but what we are still going through today. Things have certainly changed, but in someways remain the same. And that in my opinion is a sad fact. Swimming Between Worlds is a more complicated book than the usual fare here, but it is definitely one I won't soon forget.Tacker was a high school star, prepared for greatness. He was poised to become a great architect until things go awry during an assignment in Nigeria. He comes home in a bit of disgrace and ends up managing his families local grocery store, but while he was abroad he became enmeshed with the Nigerian people and their culture. His return to the South makes him start to question the laws and the lack of rights of African American's in his own community. Tacker's character is basically starting to see his world in a way he is unused to and it has a profound affect on him. Orr basically creates a coming of age story but it's not about becoming a man it's more about becoming a human, if that makes sense. It's about finding your own truth in the midst of a world that is telling you something entirely different. Tacker's character to me, was like the person who has been blind to something, seeing it for the first time. Extremely, well drawn characters are one of Elaine Neil Orr's strengths in this novel.The other two young people in the novel Kate and Gaines are also very well drawn and will strike cords within the reader as well. Kate is recovering from the loss of her parents and seeing her find out things she never knew about them through old letters is both emotional and stirring to the core. Kate is essentially adrift in her life and when she is left the family home and it's contents she begins to turn a corner of her own. One where she finds out what is most important in life. Her relationship with Tacker creates the love story in the book, but it certainly takes a back seat to the political arena and the tumultuous setting of the book.Gaines a young black man, who pushes the boundaries of the Jim Crow laws. He knows that change will never come if no one takes a stand. He is the type of character we all wish we could be in some ways. We see something wrong and we fix it. But obviously, life is often not like that. It takes a special person to carry out the difficult things. To put their life in jeopardy to make life better for the next generation. I had great respect for this character and people like him. Orr does such an amazing job of bringing her characters to life. By the end of the book readers will feel like they know them. That their stories are somehow intertwined with their own. Such amazing writing!What I didn't Like:There isn't much I didn't like here. There were parts of it that certainly bothered me. There were parts that were eye opening and challenging. The deep stuff often makes us uncomfortable. I laughed in parts, cried in others and felt generally overwhelmed at times reading it. There was love between Tacker and Kate and great friendship and understanding with Gaines. I don't think there is much to dislike about this novel except our own stupid behavior. Bottom Line:I thought Elaine Neil Orr did such an amazing job of comparing and contrasting what Tacker was seeing both in Nigeria and in North Carolina. Her storytelling is vivid and captivating and it honestly made me want to visit Nigeria for myself. Her descriptions of the culture and rituals were exceptional. But she also made me really think about how we as a country were treating other human beings and how we are still treating them. There were parts of this book that made me cringe, that made me ashamed and made me wish things were different. I wanted to be like Gaines, but sitting here reading a book or writing a blog post isn't important is it? But what if it were. What if using my own small platform could make a difference in some small way... Maybe that's what this book is really about. Don't miss this one, guys. It's one of those books that matter.
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  • Viviane Crystal
    January 1, 1970
    Tacker is an engineering student who graduated and went to work with a notable engineering firm in Nigeria, Africa. A man who fully embraces every thing he did and does, he wound up being fired and sent back to America. His fault? Getting too close to the native Nigerians, embracing their culture, innocently embracing religious and other rituals, and supposedly consorting in a physical relationship with a Nigerian. Shades of Jim Crow extending its tentacles overseas. Tacker comes back to his hom Tacker is an engineering student who graduated and went to work with a notable engineering firm in Nigeria, Africa. A man who fully embraces every thing he did and does, he wound up being fired and sent back to America. His fault? Getting too close to the native Nigerians, embracing their culture, innocently embracing religious and other rituals, and supposedly consorting in a physical relationship with a Nigerian. Shades of Jim Crow extending its tentacles overseas. Tacker comes back to his home town, embarrassed, confused and even angry about his failed career. His family really don’t know what happened but stand by Tacker and eventually offer him management of the family’s small grocery store in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While working, Tacker meets Kate Monroe, a gal is who recovering from the death of her parents and who then discovers the momentous secret of her parents’ marriage that shocks her to bits. The trauma is so deep and harsh that she is not sure she can ever trust anyone again, and that includes Tacker who seems to have his own secrets.The plot picks up with the entrance of an African-American, Gaines Townson. He is accepted to work at the grocery store where he does his best to work hard and remain unnoticed. But Gaines is part of the new wage of rebellion, willing to risk arrest and even death for trying to break the Jim Crow laws. Tacker actually accompanies him on one of these potentially volatile scenes in which Gaines dares to sit at a whites-only luncheon counter. On and on these scenarios progress with eventual success but also accompanied by violence and death.How to these characters develop? One could call this a coming-of-age novel but the characters are only coming of age with the recognition and ownership of vital truths about humans and how they treat each other. It’s all about love, hate, loyalty and betrayal. It’s an American historical novel which leaves as many questions as answers in the reader’s mind.Highly recommended historical fiction!
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  • Yvonne
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a while into the book to get to the point where I wanted to read it for the information rather than reading just because I needed to read it for a review. The back and forth was a little hard for me to track for a while. The imagery in the book was great though. I could see everything in my mind while I was reading it. It also did make me think about things that were going on in both countries of United States and Nigeria. Tacker Hart is one of the main characters. He Is from the Unit It took me a while into the book to get to the point where I wanted to read it for the information rather than reading just because I needed to read it for a review. The back and forth was a little hard for me to track for a while. The imagery in the book was great though. I could see everything in my mind while I was reading it. It also did make me think about things that were going on in both countries of United States and Nigeria. Tacker Hart is one of the main characters. He Is from the United States. He went to college at the end worked for a company that sent him to Nigeria. We see bits and pieces of his story there in Nigeria. He was considered disgraceful and sent home. We he gets home to North Carolina he was lost. He started working for his dads grocery store to get himself onto his feet. As the story progresses we see how much Tacker changed from being in Nigeria. We see the internal fights he has trying not to rock the boat but at the same time trying to help Gaines and his cause. We meet Kate and get her back story and find out about how both of her parent died and how it affected her. A good portion of her story she is lost and a shell of a human. Towards the end it seems like Tacker and Kate help each other find themselves and fall in love in the process. When Tacker does a sit in with Gaines Kate freaks out. Through several events Kate begins to realize that she should think differently and agrees with Tacker and his points of view. Gaines is an African American young man who came into Harts grocery just to get milk. Tacker allowed him to come in and get it but in the process there was an incident where Gaines was attacked by white people. This is what starts where we see the change in Tacker and his feelings on segregation. It is a complex story with complex characters. The end was emotional but I can't explain how or it might ruin it for others. I do think that it is a book that you should check out for yourself and see if you like it. I received this book for free to read from first to read in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are 100% my own.
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  • Sandra Stiles
    January 1, 1970
    This book set in the early sixties to have been written today. This book looks at segregation during the sixties. Although we no longer have segregation, or not to the extent we once had it, we still have racial issues. As much as we want to ignore it this problem is still here. The story is told through multiple perspectives. Tacker goes to Nigeria to help build schools. He is considered a minority in Nigeria and learns what it is like to be discriminated against. He returns to the United State This book set in the early sixties to have been written today. This book looks at segregation during the sixties. Although we no longer have segregation, or not to the extent we once had it, we still have racial issues. As much as we want to ignore it this problem is still here. The story is told through multiple perspectives. Tacker goes to Nigeria to help build schools. He is considered a minority in Nigeria and learns what it is like to be discriminated against. He returns to the United States still passionate about Africa and wants to help make a change. He goes back to work for his father’s grocery. When he lets an African American into the store; and the kid is attacked, Tacker decides he needs to do something. Tacker has reconnected with Kate a girl from his high school. They have differing views on the racial situation. Tacker is able to change her mind. The lives of these three people intersect so seamlessly. Some of the racial tension could have come right out of our own newspapers. This is the first book I have read by this author. I am glad I was offered the opportunity to read and review it. Please take a moment and check it out. You really won’t be disappointed.I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
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  • R
    January 1, 1970
    A boring story about white people getting their toes wet during the Civil Rights Movement. There is no “collision” or anything close to dramatic with respect to Tacker and Kate and their “involvement” with civil rights. The Black characters would have been so much more interesting had they been actual, fleshed out people rather than props in the background to provide something for the couple to kind of talk about. For example, I had so many basic questions about Gaines (the Black guy) that were A boring story about white people getting their toes wet during the Civil Rights Movement. There is no “collision” or anything close to dramatic with respect to Tacker and Kate and their “involvement” with civil rights. The Black characters would have been so much more interesting had they been actual, fleshed out people rather than props in the background to provide something for the couple to kind of talk about. For example, I had so many basic questions about Gaines (the Black guy) that were never addressed. If they were, I must have missed those 1 or 2 sentences of added depth. Was he actually from Winston-Salem? Did he go to high school there? Why was he at Fisk - in Tennessee - rather than attend one of the several HBCUs in NC??? There were no less than TEN in existence during the time period in which this story is set. Was he going to go back to school? What were his plans for his future?For all of Tacker’s waxing nostalgic about his time in Nigeria, the only thing he affirmatively brought back was smoothing out round corners of angular buildings? Yes, I am being over-simplistic with this, but he doesn’t really “do” much except feel sorry for himself about the circumstances in which he left the country until the very end of the book. Even that was a weird way to close out this story. I was actually happy when all this came to an end so I could start another book.I give this 2.5 out of 5 stars, rounded up to 3 because the author really can describe the hell out of a setting.Thank you to Penguin Books via their First to Read an advance reading copy of this book.
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  • Cindy H.
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Berkley Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Swimming Between Worlds in exchange for my honest review. This was a slow read with a very crafty title. Story set on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement and follows three individuals as they find themselves untethered in a small North Carolina town. I found myself not engaging with the story and ofen putting off returning to the pages. I did finish but it took me over a month to read through. Not my favorite read an Thank you to Berkley Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Swimming Between Worlds in exchange for my honest review. This was a slow read with a very crafty title. Story set on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement and follows three individuals as they find themselves untethered in a small North Carolina town. I found myself not engaging with the story and ofen putting off returning to the pages. I did finish but it took me over a month to read through. Not my favorite read and one that will not linger.
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  • Mindy Tysinger
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting story about a couple who are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after a life-altering event. After Kate's mother passes away, she finds letters that her Dad (also dead) wrote to her Mother telling of his love for someone else and that he was leaving her. Her Dad passed away from drowning after the undertow pulled him too far from shore but after finding the letters, she wonders if it was suicide. Tacker on the other hand is home after being fired from a trip to Africa for An interesting story about a couple who are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after a life-altering event. After Kate's mother passes away, she finds letters that her Dad (also dead) wrote to her Mother telling of his love for someone else and that he was leaving her. Her Dad passed away from drowning after the undertow pulled him too far from shore but after finding the letters, she wonders if it was suicide. Tacker on the other hand is home after being fired from a trip to Africa for becoming too close to the locals. The two find each other as they try to come to grips with their individual issues. The book is centered in Winston Salem in the 1960's. As Tacker becomes more involved in the Civil Rights movement, Kate must face the harsh reality of segregation and decide between her beliefs she has been raised by and what rings true in her heart.. The book is thought provoking and well worth your time.Thanks to Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read an advanced copy!
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    Well written and thoughtful novel about integration in 1960s Winston Salem. This is one of those novels where you need to cast yourself back and remember that things were, well, different then. Tacker has returned from his time in Nigeria a changed man- sensitive to the discrimination faced by African Americans where he had not even seen it before. Kate may seem a bit naive but this is not an unrealistic portrayal of a young woman during the time frame. Gaines, who ties the two (and the novel) t Well written and thoughtful novel about integration in 1960s Winston Salem. This is one of those novels where you need to cast yourself back and remember that things were, well, different then. Tacker has returned from his time in Nigeria a changed man- sensitive to the discrimination faced by African Americans where he had not even seen it before. Kate may seem a bit naive but this is not an unrealistic portrayal of a young woman during the time frame. Gaines, who ties the two (and the novel) together, is someone you'll wish you could meet. Orr has used her own deep knowledge of Nigeria to inform Tacker's experiences. She has also thoughtfully addressed the civil rights movement. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. For fans of historical fiction.
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  • Jamele (BookswithJams)
    January 1, 1970
    This book was not at all what I expected but was excellent. It was the first I have read by this author and I will definitely look for more by her again. The story is set in the late 60s in Winston-Salem, when segregation is still in place but protests are becoming more of a regular occurrence. Tacker has returned from an unsuccessful stint in Nigeria, and is dealing with the consequences of that, Kate has lost both her parents and is dealing with that loss, and they both are united by a young A This book was not at all what I expected but was excellent. It was the first I have read by this author and I will definitely look for more by her again. The story is set in the late 60s in Winston-Salem, when segregation is still in place but protests are becoming more of a regular occurrence. Tacker has returned from an unsuccessful stint in Nigeria, and is dealing with the consequences of that, Kate has lost both her parents and is dealing with that loss, and they both are united by a young African-American named Gaines. These three are key to the story and their interactions along with the setting that time make for a difficult but yet fulfilling read. This is not a book to read quickly, I wanted to take my time and just absorb her words as Elaine is very descriptive and just an overall excellent writer. Yes the story moved slow at times but I did not mind one bit. I had grown attached to all three of these characters, and the ending was not what I expected and left me in tears. Thanks to NetGalley for an electronic ARC of this book, very very glad I read it.
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    This book is both love story, a coming of age tale, and a tale of racism in the south in the late 50s/early 60s. Kate and Tacker come together at a tumultuous time in their lives. He's just returned from an architecture project in Nigeria after getting "involved" with the local community more than the group that sent him was comfortable with. Kate has lost both her parents and is trying to find herself among the detritus of the life they left behind, including letters that indicate her father ma This book is both love story, a coming of age tale, and a tale of racism in the south in the late 50s/early 60s. Kate and Tacker come together at a tumultuous time in their lives. He's just returned from an architecture project in Nigeria after getting "involved" with the local community more than the group that sent him was comfortable with. Kate has lost both her parents and is trying to find herself among the detritus of the life they left behind, including letters that indicate her father may not have been as happy in their life as she thought he was. Gaines, a young black man employed at Tacker's store, draws both of them into his protests and sit ins to integrate the south, creating an awakening between the two that leads to a deeper, more real friendship than would have been otherwise possible. This book is full of absolutely gorgeous imagery and prose that drops you into the setting that's depicted, the characters are completely fleshed out, emotional and real. Set against a backdrop of racial tensions and the burgeoning civil rights act, the book has a soul searingly abrupt and heart breaking ending, it was devastating. Beautifully written, looking forward to more from this author.
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  • Kristi Richardson
    January 1, 1970
    “I suppose I mean I want to get the big things right.” For example? Marry the right person? Choose the right career? Raise your children well? Make the world better? He sure was smug. “You sound like a preacher.”I received this book from Penguin Books First to Read program. It is the story of three young people, Tacker, home from a mission in Nigeria who decides to work in his father’s grocery store. Gaines, a young black man who is involved in the Civil Rights marches in town. Kate, a young wom “I suppose I mean I want to get the big things right.” For example? Marry the right person? Choose the right career? Raise your children well? Make the world better? He sure was smug. “You sound like a preacher.”I received this book from Penguin Books First to Read program. It is the story of three young people, Tacker, home from a mission in Nigeria who decides to work in his father’s grocery store. Gaines, a young black man who is involved in the Civil Rights marches in town. Kate, a young woman who is drifting through life because her father died in mysterious circumstances and her mother soon after. These three people create a story about the Civil Rights era where each must choose to make a stand. The characters are amazing and you will be pulling for all of them to make it. Not all of them do make it, so taking a stand sometimes comes with a high price. I highly recommend this novel for young adults and anyone interested in the Civil Rights era.
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  • Kathy Kirstner
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it. Well written, rich characters, laughter and tears.
  • Francie
    January 1, 1970
    Like others have stated in their reviews, Elaine Orr's "Swimming Between Worlds" is not a fast read; however, its slow pace seems to mirror the pace of the mid-twentieth century South as well as that of Nigeria. The white characters, Tacker and Kate, are fully developed, but Gaines, the young African-American key character, is seen mainly through the eyes of Tacker and Kate. Rather than seeing this as a weakness to this novel, though, I felt that it was a realistic portrayal of the challenges of Like others have stated in their reviews, Elaine Orr's "Swimming Between Worlds" is not a fast read; however, its slow pace seems to mirror the pace of the mid-twentieth century South as well as that of Nigeria. The white characters, Tacker and Kate, are fully developed, but Gaines, the young African-American key character, is seen mainly through the eyes of Tacker and Kate. Rather than seeing this as a weakness to this novel, though, I felt that it was a realistic portrayal of the challenges of bridging racial divides and of the assumptions whites make about blacks, even when they are striving to be actively anti-racist. The novel's conclusion conveys hope for future generations as we continue to wrestle with many of the same problems and issues explored in "Swimming Between Worlds." I'm glad that I read this novel, and I thank Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to do so.
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  • Naina
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to First to Read for my free advance reading copy of this book. This book was beautifully written and is a coming of age story in the late 50s/early 60s during the Civil Rights movement. The book was a little slow to start, but once I was introduced to the three central characters and was able to learn more about each, I was hooked. Tacker Hart has just moved back home to North Carolina after spending some time abroad in Nigeria and getting too "involved" with the locals, causing the g Thank you to First to Read for my free advance reading copy of this book. This book was beautifully written and is a coming of age story in the late 50s/early 60s during the Civil Rights movement. The book was a little slow to start, but once I was introduced to the three central characters and was able to learn more about each, I was hooked. Tacker Hart has just moved back home to North Carolina after spending some time abroad in Nigeria and getting too "involved" with the locals, causing the group he was abroad with to become quite uncomfortable and sending him back home. Kate Monroe is still grieving the loss of both her parents and too has returned home after graduating from college. And, Gaines Townson is a young black man who gets involved with the nonviolent protests and movements. We learn a lot about these three characters, watch them evolve (especially Tacker), and get some insight to how they think. My one criticism is that we get chapters from Tacker and Kate's perspective, but none from Gaine's's. I wish that was different, because he is a central character who motivates a lot of change in those around him and his story is just as important as Tacker and Kate's. I really enjoyed this book, though it felt slow at times, and the last few chapters had me reeling. The end was highly emotional for me, and it was incredible to see how characters could change and grow over the course of a momentous year.
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  • Susan Katz
    January 1, 1970
    Really terrific book. See my review on Amazon.com if you want details!
  • caroline
    January 1, 1970
    What a great read! I was gifted this book through a First Reads give away. What a great story. The characters were deep and the story was quite a page turner. Quite a different perspective of the integration movement and how it effected people and kids of all ages. The title and photo had me imagining the story may have been more about swimming but what a pleasant surprise!
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully written story about healing, love and acceptance set in early 1960s Winston-Salem, North Carolina on the cusp of the civil rights movement.
  • Sara Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free ARC of this book from the Random First to Read Program.This book is about Tacker who goes to Nigeria to help build schools, but ends up coming home early in disgrace. He starts managing his father's grocery store in the 1960s south where segregation is very much alive. Tacker meets Gaines, a black college student who is working to integrate the south. Tacker was changed by his time in Nigeria and has to decide if he's going to help Gaines. Tacker also meets Kate, a girl from hi I received a free ARC of this book from the Random First to Read Program.This book is about Tacker who goes to Nigeria to help build schools, but ends up coming home early in disgrace. He starts managing his father's grocery store in the 1960s south where segregation is very much alive. Tacker meets Gaines, a black college student who is working to integrate the south. Tacker was changed by his time in Nigeria and has to decide if he's going to help Gaines. Tacker also meets Kate, a girl from his high school, who challenges him as a person. Kate is also on her own path, unraveling her deceased parents' lives in the house they left behind. The ending of the book is unexpected, but also makes this book much more vibrant and important than it would've been with the predictable ending that I thought was going to happen.
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  • Donna Huber
    January 1, 1970
    It was really good up to the end which was very sad. I wasn't prepared for the ending. Read my full review at Girl Who Reads.
  • Jay bookworm
    January 1, 1970
    This book is not an easy read. I do appreciate the opportunity through First Reads to read and provide a review of the novel. This is a vast work and takes a good deal of time to read and process. I think it is one of those books that would be great to explore as part of a class where you dissect the characters, the various plot lines and what is going on in the world, especially the U.S. south at the time. I really do wonder what it was like then although we continue to struggle today with our This book is not an easy read. I do appreciate the opportunity through First Reads to read and provide a review of the novel. This is a vast work and takes a good deal of time to read and process. I think it is one of those books that would be great to explore as part of a class where you dissect the characters, the various plot lines and what is going on in the world, especially the U.S. south at the time. I really do wonder what it was like then although we continue to struggle today with our relationships across races and across the world. We have even more information now at our fingertips if we can find true sources of knowledge. I can’t even imagine how you wrapped your mind around what was going on in the world when you only had access to a couple of tv networks and a few newspapers you were aware of. There is a lot going on in this book. If you are looking for a read that will challenge you and make you desire the time to contemplate it, this is the book for you. If you want a quick page turner, get this book and hold onto it when you want to question what you know and believe and how it might be different.
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