I know. I know. I’m a mess. Becky (review linked below) is amazing and seriously putting the word buddy in buddy read. Everyone, please bear with me. It is a rough (understatement) time around here. Liam, Gomez, and I are day-to-day. I’m getting through multiple books a day. Writing seems to be a sticking point. But here is The Night Swim A Novel By Megan Goldin
The Night Swim: A Novel By Megan Goldin
The week of August, 4th brings readers two Adult Thrillers that tackle women’s issues in page-turning fashion. First, Megan Goldin’s The Night Swim A Novel delves into rape, classism, and the perceptions that society tags onto people. Second, The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan takes on the Pharmaceutical Industry, infertility, and wealth in an insane Adult Psychological Thriller that I will be reviewing shortly. In both instances, the issues at the crux of the stories never drag down the plot or become preachy.
Unlike The First To Lie, The Night Swim leans more to the Detective/Women’s Sleuth genre, riding the true-crime podcast trend. That is just a matter of preference, in sub-genre. Megan Goldin writes The Night Swim from two points of view, Rachel, the host of Guilty or Not Guilty, Hannah (we’ll talk more about her later), and then episodes of Guilty or Not Guilty are interspersed in between. Megan
Goldin’s format keeps The Night Swim moving at a fast clip, along with keeping readers on their toes. You don’t feel like you have solid ground under your feet, which creates more suspense throughout the novel.
Our First Adult Thriller Buddy Read
<Sentimental Moment> Becky and are having our first Adult Thriller moment! But not our last as I’m so excited to report that we will buddy read Ruth Ware’s next thriller One By One!!! And thank the book fairies because I can’t do that alone, again. BAH! Here is Becky’s review of The Night Swim, which is both fantastic, concise <ahem unlike mine> and has a synopsis, should you need one. We also agreed on well, everything?
The Night Swim: Social Themes
Megan Goldin’s The Night Swim A Novel excels where many Adult Thrillers, whether they fall under detective, psychological thrillers, or other sub-genres, is in its handling of social themes. As with The Split by S.J. Bolton, Goldin doesn’t just use them as plot devices. Instead, Goldin gets into the nitty-gritty of each and explores their ramifications thoughtfully, fearlessly, and purposefully. Furthermore, the themes Goldin has chosen to approach in The Night Swim are relevant, sensitive, and complicated. So, let’s break them down, eh?
Rape- what is so impressive about the way Megan Goldin handles not just the physical act of rape (and yes, please keep this in mind if you choose to read The Night Swim) is how she handles the aftermath. She depicts both the victim and the accused, throughout the trial, very honestly. It leaves the reader to contemplate what happens if the accused is innocent. If the victim was raped but unintentionally implicates the wrong person, what is the cascading cost to that person’s life? To both lives? The victim then does not know who raped them, and the defendant has to live with that accusation for the rest of their life.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for a Hardcopy ARC and St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an Advance Audiobook for an honest review.
The burden of proof lives and dies with the victim. The horrors a victim must jump through to build a case, let alone convict the accused, are depicted in devastating detail. I do not care how many times you have heard the term “rape kit” (unless you have experienced it or otherwise administered one), reading the details of what goes into what it entails was disturbing.
The body of a sexual assault victim is a crime scene, “said Nurse Rice. “It’s my job to… methodically collecting evidence in a way that preserves the chain of custody and reduces cross-contamination.”
Nurse Rice explained how the victim’s clothes were put into evidence bags… “…examine every inch of the victim, from the tip of her head to her toes. We document each bruise, scratch, and abrasion. We remove any foreign pubic hairs, semen, fibers. Anything we find. And we take swabs and samples of the victim’s own pubic hairs for comparison purposes.
“If the victim agrees… we use a camera called a colposcope to photograph internal injuries. Lacerations on the genitals. Anything that might be evidence of a sexual assault.”
I wish I could say that was all, but there is more to it. From there, the victim also has to relive the entire experience by testifying on the stand. If she doesn’t, there isn’t a case. Meanwhile, the defendant shows up every day. It is the constant reliving of a nightmare for months if not longer that will already haunt you for a lifetime.
Classism and reputations are also addressed in The Night Swim. Megan Goldin does a fantastic job connecting how your social status correlates to perception and the worth of your life. When cases such as these rip families, towns, and even the country apart. Often, the social status, the perceived social activities of the victim, and the power of the defendant’s family can choose the outcome of the case more readily than its reality. The Night Swim interweaves this truth within the crime committed 25-years ago and present-day, flawlessly.
The Night Swim A Novel: Structure
Megan Goldin rides the trend of true crime podcasts, giving her main character, Rachel, Guilty, or Not Guilty. While this is a trend for the sub-genre, it is my first experience with true crime podcasts. Sprinkling podcast episodes throughout the book might be typical. I loved how Goldin utilized it. Having Rachel’s actual point of view, interactions, and inner-dialogue/conflicts and then seeing how that filtered through to her podcast was insightful.
The wrench that Goldin brilliantly adds to the piece is social media. I love how twitter blows up on Rachel and her podcast. Again, it is another way of showing both sides of the trial, before the truth comes to light. No matter what or who you decide to believe, Rachel sticks to providing a balanced story on her podcast. Neither those who think the victim nor those who think the defendant will let her get away with it. Hearing the ugliness, we all know exists on social media, played out, is jarring and done realistically.
Along with Rachel’s point of view and the podcasts, we have Hannah’s point of view. Hannah begins writing letters to Rachel while she is in Hannah’s hometown, covering a rape case. Twenty-five years ago, her sister Jenny died, after she went swimming at night by a jetty and hit her head.
The police ruled Jenny’s death an accident, but Hannah insists she witnessed everything that happened that night. And Rachel is the only one that can help her bring the truth to light.
When you bring all of this together, it is a bullet train of mystery, action, and suspense.
No Spoilers- The End… Meh
Becky and I agreed that this is where The Night Swim lost its steam. It was anti-climactic and predictable in yes, the actual predictable way. It wasn’t predictable in the good way, where we had tidbits that we could pick up on but anti-climactic, could have been much better predictable.
There were so many ways that I wanted The Night Swim to do and be better. Megan Goldin attacked so many social themes with bravery that I wanted the end to be brave. With two massive crimes, you have the chance to do so much. I will not say more than that because of spoilers.
Also, the odd thing? Goldin did leave A LOT of clues and exciting things that I connected the dots on throughout the town’s 25-year history. Things that Becky and I discussed and got us excited. If those things had been a part of the ending? That would have been awesome. That would have been the right kind of predictable. None of that had anything to do with anything. And that had us kind of like… well what was the point of any of it?
It was a shame that all these social themes never became preach, never took anything away from the suspense or entertainment of the story throughout the plot, but then had the ending just fall flat. But I think it is still worth the read, as many will probably enjoy it, even the end. And again, the social themes are worth it, in itself.
Plus, with such a likable main character and the ending? I am wondering if The Night Swim A Novel by Megan Goldin might be the set-up to a series. And I would read the next installment.