Friday, October 06, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: Swimming Upstream, Slowly by Melissa Clark

Sasha Salter is on the fast-track to success. She has her own hit children’s TV show Please Pass the Salter, she’s being profiled as one of the “20 under 30-Ones to Watch”, and she’s living a life she loves. So the news that she’s pregnant, even though she hasn’t had sex in more than two years, is completely unwelcome. Quickly her life spins out of control: the specialist she’s sent to wants her to track down every man she’s ever had sex with; Melanie, the writer profiling her for 20 under 30 is determined to ferret out all her secrets; and Sasha doesn’t know if she’s ready to be a mother. Are “lazy sperm” going to make her the poster girl for medical anomalies, or will the journey down the rabbit hole turn out to be a blessing in disguise?

Swimming Upstream, Slowly takes as its basic premise an unlikely occurrence – lazy sperm – and then explores the painful ramifications of such an event. The confusion, denial and painful outcomes experience by Sasha are to be expected; however, Melissa Clark pulls to the forefront the comedic elements which prevent Swimming Upstream, Slowly from becoming just another “poor me” chick lit novel.

Beginning novelists are advised to “write what they know” and Clark has taken that to heart. The creator/executive producer of the award-winning children’s show Braceface, Clark’s knowledge of the inner workings of children’s programming clearly shows in Please Pass the Salter. This solid framework of verisimilitude makes the plot device of “lazy sperm” more believable, preventing readers and critics from dismissing Swimming Upstream, Slowly as too extreme or silly. The strong base of reality allows doubt to creep in for readers and renders Sasha’s fears more potent and sympathetic.

Like most first novels, Swimming Upstream, Slowly has a few uneven moments. The character of Melanie comes off a bit forced at times and occasionally the pacing feels off; however, these minor glitches will smooth out with time as Clark’s writing continues to mature.

Read the review at Front Street Reviews.

ISBN10: 0767925262
ISBN13: 9780767925266

Trade Paperback
240 Pages
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: September 2006
Author Website:


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