Caterpillars Can’t Swim

Author: Liane Shaw34949098

Publisher: Second Story Press

Publication Date: 12. September 2017

Rating: 3./5. Stars

Diversity: LGBT Characters (gay SC), disabled MC (wheelchair user)

TW: bullying, suicide attempt, depression, suicidal ideation, homophobia, ableism

Summary: Ryan finds his freedom in the water, where he is not bound by gravity and his wheelchair. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from the water their lives become connected, whether they like it or not. Ryan keeps Jack’s secret about that day in the water, but he knows that Jack needs help. The school is full of rumors about Jack’s sexuality, and he has few friends. Almost against his better judgement, Ryan decides to invite Jack on a trip to Comic Con he’s planned with his best friend Cody, the captain of the school’s swim team. The three boys make an unlikely combination, but they will each have the chance to show whether they are brave enough to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define them by.


Order here: amazon

Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


This book is told from Ryan’s perspective. He is a teenager, who due to cerebral palsy in his legs, has to use a wheel-chair. Living in a small town isn’t easy. Even his school had to be changed to be inclusive of him specifically as he is the only wheelchair user in his town. The only time he doesn’t really feel all that different is when he is swimming. He actually is on the swim team and really good at it too.

One day while he is hanging out in the park, he sees a boy wearing a skirt walking into the water and not coming back up. That’s how his life intersects with Jack’s, even though rather unwillingly as he acted mostly on instinct by jumping in after him and saving him.

This is the story of two outsiders, who very unwillingly become something akin to friends, but only due to their shared outsider-status. This is a story about growing up and growing as a person, about learning things about oneself and others and kind of even about friendship. Even if it’s not really one, at least not at first.

Personally, I found the story quite interesting, though it is certainly not my favorite story. There were some parts that bothered me, like Cody’s constant homophobia, which really grated on my nerves. Ryan was definitely an interesting character and I liked seeing him grow and learn more about him. I also liked that he was quite funny with a dry sense of humor which I greatly enjoyed.

The ending was quite abrupt and not at all what I was expecting, but otherwise, this was certainly a nice story, though it did not pull me in as much as I had hoped it would.


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