Jake’s father goes missing in a fishing accident and leaves his son to deal with the family diner that is sinking into debt. Although being a quahogger isn’t easy, Jake is determined to save his family’s legacy. A beautifully written male coming of age story set in coastal RI.
— Martha Cornwell
A young working-class teen fights to save his family’s diner after his father is lost in a fishing-boat accident.
When his dad goes missing in a fishing-boat accident, fourteen-year-old Jake refuses to think he may have lost his father forever. But suddenly, nothing seems certain in Jake’s future, and now his family’s diner may be repossessed by loan sharks. In Narragansett Bay, scrabbling out a living as a quahogger isn’t easy, but with the help of some local clammers, Jake is determined to work hard and earn enough money to ensure his family’s security and save the diner in time. Told with cinematic suspense and a true compassion for the characters, Swim That Rock is a fast-paced coming-of-age story that beautifully and evocatively captures the essence of coastal Rhode Island life, the struggles of blue-collar family dynamics, and the dreams of one boy to come into his own.
About the Author
John Rocco is the author and illustrator of several books for children, including Blackout, a Caldecott Honor Book. He also illustrated The Flint Heart by Katherine and John Paterson and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. John Rocco lives in Los Angeles.
Jay Primiano is a poet, performer, and most recently, children’s book author. Like his co-author, John Rocco, Jay Primiano was raised on fishing boats. He started working on a commercial lobster boat when he was eleven years old and still has a deep connection to the waters of Rhode Island, where he spends much of his free time teaching his daughters how to catch dinner. He lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island.
An affable coming-of-age novel… Jake’s voice is credible and appealing. Particularly touching is his developing relationship with Darcy, a waitress who swears long sleeves to conceal her arms, one of which is badly burned. Darcy’s scars, like Jake’s ungainliness, can be read as any flaw that preoccupies an ill-at-ease teenager. But their story offers a way toward self-acceptance. —The New York Times Book Review
Swim That Rock is a brilliantly crafted page-turner and heartwarming story of friendship and family – full of storms, mystery, danger, mobsters, and even the odd pirate. Like the New England quahoggers in their novel, John Rocco and Jay Primiano know how to bring the boat in full. Humor, adventure, wonderful characters, stakes that matter, and a setting so lovingly described you can taste the salt in the air – Swim That Rock is a rare catch. —Rick Riordan
Jake and his friends are extremely likable and the teen characters are all well-developed. This is a well-written and exciting action and adventure story that will be sure to please middle school boys who are looking for an engaging read. Rocco and Primiano have written a novel that will appeal, so be sure to hand it to all your male readers. —Library Media Connection
The rich imagery of life in a fishing town, combined with action that primarily revolves around intense quahogging expeditions, makes this a refreshingly unique read. —School Library Journal
Landlubbers who think they won’t give a rip for a novel about clamming have another think coming. ... Like all good maritime novels, this one will have landlocked kids pining for a strong gust of salt spray. —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Readers will be hooked by the exciting opening scene as a hurricane rips the shore and Captain takes Jake out on the dangerous waters to pirate motors from sinking boats. With a lushly detailed sense of place and character, the story delineates the struggle of a boy coming to terms with his situation. —The Horn Book
[An] entertaining coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the New England fishing industry. ... Steeped in atmosphere and rich in detail, this adventure captures the salt in the air as well as the omnipresent ticking deadline. ... Jack's struggle is easily relatable thanks to deft characterizations and an overall sense of authenticity. —Publishers Weekly
[T]he distinct, clearly realized setting details distinguish this title from the vast schools of novels for young teens swimming in the publishing sea... Fills the bill for teens looking for an atypical action adventure. —Kirkus Reviews
Jake’s willingness to work wicked hard on both sides of the law to remain part of his Narragansett Bay community is vividly conveyed... The coauthors incorporate autobiographical elements, which lend the tale’s cast and setting a salty authenticity. —Booklist
The authors, both experienced quahoggers, capture the hard labor and satisfaction of working on the water. Teen readers will get caught up in the danger, action and hint of romance in this novel vividly set in the Ocean State. —The Providence Journal