Grace Davis knows how she wants to spend her summer - sitting poolside with her friend Jaci at the Riverside Swim Club! Now she just needs to earn the money to pay the membership fee so her parents will let her join. While she works a series of odd jobs, including pet sitting, she fends off nastiness from her former best friend, Christina, and tries to work up the nerve to talk to her crush, the incredibly cute Mike Morris.
Dive In! is the first book in a new summer-themed series from Simon and Schuster called Pool Girls, which will appeal mainly to girls in grades 4 to 8. The series involves most of the same issues and situations as any middle grade paperback, but it sets itself apart by introducing an unusual setting - that of a private swim club. This is the perfect setting for a series of beach reads, and it introduces a lot of possibilities for storylines that wouldn’t be possible if the story was just set in school, or at home. Like many real girls, Grace has a summer life that exists separately from her regular school life, and this book captures that idea very well.
The writing in this story was somewhat disjointed at times, and sometimes I felt like it lost track of the main plot line, which was Grace’s desire to earn money. Mike and Christina both seemed like pretty flat characters, used only as the crush and the arch-enemy, respectively, and the reader only likes or dislikes them because Grace tells us one is cute, and one is cruel.
I suspect some of the annoying exposition of this book comes about only because it is the first in the series, so future books might be somewhat more interesting now that all that background has been established. Though Dive In! isn’t as well-written as Katy Grant’s Summer Camp Secrets series, the two series do seem to share the same light mood and much of the same subject matter, so girls who are looking for something similar to Summer Camp Secrets might want to give these a shot. Parents concerned about too much boy-craziness might want to be a little wary, as Mike’s cuteness does seem to be at the forefront of Grace’s thoughts a lot of the time, but the crush is pretty tame, overall. Parents might also be pleased to know that Grace’s parents are involved in the story, and that they are the ones who insist that she earn the swim club fee herself.
Dive In! is sure to find an audience among tweens who enjoy swimming, or who just want something fun to read on summer vacation. Recommend it also to fans of The Melting of Maggie Bean, another middle grade novel about a swimmer.
I purchased Dive In! from Barnes and Noble's website, and read it on my Nook.