Read Swimming Sweet Arrow by Maureen Gibbon Online


Evangeline Starr Raybuck -- plain-spoken, lusty, and hardworking -- and June Keel are high school seniors, best friends going out with best friends, working together at Noecker's chicken farm after school. Vangie and June make out with their boyfriends together in the same car; they pass dirty notes to each other during the day at school. They tell each other everything: "Evangeline Starr Raybuck -- plain-spoken, lusty, and hardworking -- and June Keel are high school seniors, best friends going out with best friends, working together at Noecker's chicken farm after school. Vangie and June make out with their boyfriends together in the same car; they pass dirty notes to each other during the day at school. They tell each other everything: "That was the kind of friends we were".After they graduate, things begin to shift. Vangie gets a job waitressing and moves in with Del; June, unable to get a job anywhere but the local factory, moves in with Ray and his older brother Luke. As they become more involved in their lives with their men, they see each other infrequently, but not so seldom that it doesn't become clear to Vangie that there's something dangerous going on, that June has crossed a line with the men in her life that even Vangie would not....

Title : Swimming Sweet Arrow
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316355568
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Swimming Sweet Arrow Reviews

  • Jen
    2018-12-25 16:59

    God, I loved this book when I first read it. Still do, as a matter of fact.Yeah, yeah to the pearl-clutchers who call it "vile" and "pornographic" (you must be SO much fun to hang out with!) just because the main character is a girl who actually enjoys sex! GASP HORROR SHOCK.The tale of Vangie growing up and eventually, growing apart from those she once held dear, really hit my heart. It's one of the more realistic depictions of sex - in all its messiness - that I've ever read, and the dirty fun of the characters, and their intimate, raw lives, just never gets boring. It strikes close to the bone with so much of the story - the friends who realize they really don't know each other anymore, the many many variations of sex, the rape, the pain, the awful squalid chicken farm, and the reality that becoming an adult sometimes means letting go of childish things.Highly recommended - mainly, for its perfect characterization of Vangie, and for an author who isn't afraid to make her main character sexual. Love.

  • Christie
    2019-01-02 21:14

    Maureen Gibbon’s novel, Swimming Sweet Arrow, is something of a surprise. The first surprise might be the very graphic sex. But the second surprise will most definitely be how affecting the novel’s narrator, 18 year old Vangie, is.“When I was eighteen, I went parking with my boyfriend Del, my best friend June, and her boyfriend Del. What I mean is that June fucked Ray and I fucked Del in the same car, at the same time.”Gibbon establishes Vangie’s voice- at once innocent and experienced- from the novel’s opening lines and from that moment on it’s hard to stop turning the pages as a year in Vangie’s life unfolds.Vangie graduates from high school, moves in with Del, parties incessantly and slowly begins climbing out of her youth and into her adulthood. The success of the book is the way in which Gibbon writes Vangie, a character who never shies away from who she is or what she wants. And even when she makes horrible mistakes in judgment, Vangie never passes the buck. Despite the subject matter, which might be too-graphic for some, Vangie’s search for meaning, for love, and for a place to belong is a thing of beauty.

  • Chickie
    2019-01-13 18:15

    (This is a personal review.) I think I underrated this book for personal reasons. The writing was fine and the story was fine, but it hit too close to home and became painful to read. I've been in that car with my best friend doing those same things and I grew up with boys who belong in this story. A few years ago (in my teens), I might have loved it. I would have thought, "Hey, here is a book about people like me!". But, when I read it now I think, "Hey, here is a book about people I used to know. How very very sad." With that said, I do think this book shows a devastatingly honest and realistic look into the life of small town kids who come from shady backgrounds. What is even worse, is that many, just like some in the story, never see that it's not normal or typical or even really acceptable. Some of those I considered friends grew up to continue the cycles of abuse and some fell so deep in drugs that there was no coming back. Others are now in jail for things as horrible and unthinkable as murder. Reading this book brings up painful memories and reminds me to be thankful that I got out whole. I think that someone who isn't reading the book from the "inside", so to speak, might enjoy it much more.

  • Lisa A. Fraser
    2018-12-24 14:20

    I see folks saying how this book is pornographic and that the protagonist has no respect for herself but it only highlights what a lot of teenagers do & what a lot of them go through. Now whether you think that's unfortunate or not it's a matter of opinion.Personally, I couldn't put this book down. I read it from start to finish in one sitting. It's real, it's raw, and the pace is good. I like how in the end she finds herself and is strong enough to know what decision needs to be made. It only reflects our human nature of sometimes sticking to things/people that are wrong for us, yet we keep coming back. And it also reflects those moments when something clicks in our brains that we can do better and deserve better. It's those teenage experiences that shape us, and it's those experiences that seek to make us grow, and if we grasp the lesson, we will grow. I think this book does a good job of showing that, & of showing how love/ infatuation really is blind & can inhibit us yet how self-realization can get us out of situations that don't serve us well.It's worth a read.

  • Thomas
    2018-12-24 14:21

    Swimming Sweet Arrow was written by my ninth-grade English teacher, Ms. Gibbon. She was working on it when I was her student. It didn't come out till after I graduated high school and I eventually read it while applying for graduate school. I don't know a ton of novelists (do most people?) and it's really fun having been taught literary criticism and creative writing by someone, and then getting a chance to read her own work later on.This is a coming-of-age novel about small town kids with little in the way of life goals, dreams, or self-esteem in general. Which is to say, a lot of kids in America who aren't headed straight to Stanford. The narrator has a lot of sex with her boyfriend in cars. I recall the book being fun, easy to read, and having emotional honesty. Sounds like a lot of people were grossed out by all the sex in cars. This is a book about kids who have sex in cars. You have been warned; now get over it and read Ms. Gibbon's book.

  • Rachel
    2019-01-07 16:20

    I loved this book. There are so many elements to this book, and it's something I need to mull over for a while, but I couldn't put it down. I was hesitant to read because I disliked "Thief" by the same author. I found that book boring and crude with the main characters loathsome (and not in a good way). But this book was intense. It was crude and honest and honestly crude. It was vile and dirty without making me feel dirty for reading it. Not smutty or erotic, just a story of young love, sexuality, and the coming of age in a small town without a moral compass. Not for everyone. But definitely for some of you.

  • Erin
    2019-01-05 14:09

    This book was a shockingly disturbing depiction of a white trash girl with zero respect for herself. It was pornographic and just vile. The only brief moment of relief came at the end when Vangie FINALLY left her repulsive boyfriend. This book was extremely graphic and not recommended for anyone under 21 and try not to eat right before you read it. This author has some serious issues to even think stuff like this up!!!

  • Elinor
    2018-12-30 13:02

    A criminally underrated book that explores female sexuality with no squeamishness whatsoever. Rhythmic, hypnotic, brutal and beautifully poetic. So many more people should read Maureen Gibbon, she's a true stylist and writes the kind of prose you can't tear yourself away from. Stunning.

  • Benjamin Chandler
    2018-12-30 21:00

    I'd read all the reviews that said this book was sex-loaded and raunchy, but didn't really believe them. But, the other reviewers were right—this book does talk about sex a lot. Like most-of-the-book a lot. But it's not erotic, per se, or even pornographic. It's just very, very frank. The narrator is a visceral person. She's really just a body, completely in tune with sensations. Everything she describes or experiences is physical. From work to getting high to sex. In fact, it's easy to think of the narrator as a body carrying around a brain, and the brain tries to make sense of all the stuff the body is doing. Our protagonist is no deep philosopher, but she does try to organize of all the sensations and feelings that come from them and recognize how they make her feel emotionally. And these experiences her body goes through are a little rough. A bad boyfriend, distant parents, unlikable jobs, and chronic drug use. She tries to understand them, as well as figure out how she feels about her best friend's two-timing, but even her contemplations usually end with physical sensations, such as guilt-laden sleepless nights.Sometimes the narrator's inability to really dig deeper than sensation was frustrating. She goes through emotional rides in the novel, but often emerges on the other end of them without much introspection. More than once she struggled to understand a feeling, then, later says, "then I understood," but she never tells the reader what she understood about the feeling. But the voice the author used for the character gets under your skin. It's straight-forward, honest, and often real voice. It was so effective that, even though I wasn't dazzled by the book, I want to read more by its author.

  • Jessica Sullivan
    2019-01-06 20:53

    This is one of those books that takes a long time to really hit you. That's not to say that it's a slow read; it's not. It's just that the depth of it hits hard and all at once. At least that's how it was for me. In the tradition of literary minimalism and dirty realism, Gibbon presents us with a coming-of-age story centered on Vangie Raybuck, a teenage girl living in a poor rural town in an indeterminate decade. There's no way to dance around this so I'll just say it: this book is incredibly smutty. It focuses quite a bit on Vangie's defining sexual experiences, which are explicit, gritty, and raw. Throughout the course of the story, Vangie's own sense of self emerges as she gradually drifts apart from her boyfriend and her best friend. She doesn't intentionally hurt anyone around her, but comes to learn that sometimes collateral damage is a consequence of being true to oneself. The best part of this book is the way it's written. Vangie's voice is so frank and matter-of-fact. She presents things as they happen, and doesn't focus a whole lot on analyzing them. The style is reminiscent of Hemingway - and has also evoked comparisons to Raymond Carver.

  • Leo Jacobowitz
    2019-01-13 13:13

    I believe this is a debut book - a good one. Is it just me or do you too love sex, violence and rednecks? This book is basically Penthouse Forum, with a powerfully feminist core - even chicks with woolly knee socks open them at some point I guess. The sex scenes are delicious and nutritious. "It was on that dank, steamy night that I met two amputee cheerleaders....." ;) Wait, that was the penthouse.....

  • ★¸. • * ° * ༺*Blanka*༺*°°*•.¸. ♥★
    2019-01-09 17:01

    Vangie Rayburn spends most of her last year of school doing drugs and having sex with her boyfriend Del. Her big dream is to graduate, move in with Del, and have lots of sex. Vangie and her best friend like to boast that they are "young and dumb and full of come." Vangie is plagued by the usual litany of problems: abusive boyfriend with drug and alcohol problems, meaningless jobs, absent parents, troubled best friend.

  • Jenna
    2019-01-14 14:10

    First dirty book I have ever read. I loved it.

  • sislasus
    2019-01-06 21:23

    Vangie's voice is quite unique and so damn strong. This book is unlike any other book I've read.

  • E.p.
    2019-01-02 16:03

    There is a lot going on in this book and anyone who calls it vile, pornographic, or sexist clearly grew up in a privileged home with sexually repressed parents and are probably still sexually repressed themselves. I really appreciated the truth of this book. The book opens with something like " the truth about girls that no one talks about". True fact, teenage girls like sex! They have a lot of it, they are exploring their bodies and developing into what they will become as adults. The sex in this book is mutually agreed upon (with one or two grey area encounters). More than just liking sex, teenage girls realize that sex is power! This is the story of two girls who grow into their sexuality and take control of it as well as their fate. June and Vangie take control in different ways with different outcomes in parallel story lines that show how one or two poor decisions can dictate the rest of the lives for girls with limited family support and means. Possible spoiler beyond here:Vangie grows up in a house hold where her parents do want what is best for her, but they can't be bothered to give it to her. She has a lack of supervision, limited moral guidance from parents who drink to get drunk, and no guardian or mentor. She isn't abused, but she isn't supported either. Her best friend, June, is from a family know about the town for less than desirable morals and it's indicated that she may have been abused. Both Vangie and June get into "drinking, drugging, and screwing", even though both of them do well in school and are able to hold down jobs and boyfriends in high school. Instead of moving out of town after graduation, they take what jobs they can get and "shack up" with their boyfriends as they try to decide what they want in life. Vangie thinks that she is in love, but she starts to realize that her boyfriend isn't going anywhere and that he wants to control her life. She is smart enough to know that she doesn't want a child in her early 20s and that a child means that she can never leave. She has surprisingly good morals in most situations, especially related to her work ethic and relationship. The exception being two sexual encounters, one with her boyfriend's brother when they were all still in high school and probably related to this newfound sexual power that she feels wearing a black neglige for the first time alone with her boyfriend having open adult sex in a house without parents. The other encounter was an effort to punish herself and her boyfriend for poor decisions. Things go too far and she can't stop it because she asked for it, but he takes advantage and hurts and humiliates her. It's unclear if this is just his personality or if he is trying to punish her for her relationship with his sister or trying to punish her for her cheating on her boyfriend. June knows that she doesn't love her boyfriend, but moves in with him and his brother. She falls for his brother, or just the lust of lusting, and continues relationships with both of them. She also makes some odd passes at Vangie indicating that she is more into sex as power than as an emotional act. It also, to me, indicates that she realizes that she won't have this power forever and that she is trying to wield it while she can. She is at a shitty job in a garment factory that she isn't likely to ever escape from. This is her life. Vangie finally decides to get out after her boyfriend tried to force her to get pregnant because he thinks that having a baby will fix his life. Between this,his lack of personal development, and his increasing sexual violence during drinking, she finally realizes that she doesn't need him. June wasn't so lucky. Her boyfriend is killed by his brother and she is severely beaten for cheating. She will live her life as a social outcast with everyone in town knowing her story and judging her for the rest of her life. What is so hard about this story is that this is reality. There are so many bright young women who stay in the same fruitless situation because they don't have the skills, experience, or courage necessary to start a new life somewhere else. It's pretty easy for trust fund kids to travel the world with a steady home base of good 'ol mom and dad. But when you can't count on mom and dad, what security do you have to try to change your life?

  • Jessica P
    2019-01-09 19:10

    Stick through and read it to the end and you won't be disappointed. I personally thought the character was obsessed with sex a little too much for my taste, but given the turn of events I'm happy with how the ending turned out as well as how much the character grew and matured. The authors writing was understandable and she is able to tell a story very well without having to repeat herself or use cliche metaphors.

  • HeavyReader
    2019-01-08 14:59

    I picked this book up at a thrift store because I needed something to read. The back cover caught my attention with its promise of sex.The writing was accessible, and by that I mean I could have read this book when I was in 6th grade. Reading this book was no challenge, and I sure didn't need a dictionary close by because there were no new words to learn.There was a lot of sex. Good sex. Bad sex. Violent sex. Infidelity. Sex the narrator regretted. Sex that probably should not have happened. But with all the sex, this book was not very erotic. The story did not turn me on. The whole thing kind of made me uncomfortable, as if I were the one having sex I shouldn't be having. I did appreciate that the protagonist was a working class gal who had a series of physically demanding jobs. (She worked on a chicken farm, as a waitress in dumpy restaurant, and as a pear picker before getting a job running a fruit stand.) It's not often enough that I see working class women sympathetically represented in novels. (Maybe I've been reading the wrong books).I also liked that the protagonist mostly enjoyed sex, especially early on in her relationship with her boyfriend. I liked that although she had to figure out how to have orgasms, once she knew how, she was committed to her own pleasure. I like that anal and oral sex were included in her repertoire, that "sex" did not only mean "intercourse." I liked that she masturbated for pleasure, but also to heal her damaged sexuality after a distasteful sexual encounter.Maybe I would have liked this book better if I had read it as a younger woman. I think I am a bit older than the intended audience.I have one more beef with book, this one not about the writing at all.I know authors practically never have any control over the covers of their books, so I don't hold Maureen Gibbon responsible for the photo on the front of this one. But come on Back Bay Books! Did you really need to use a young woman's vulva as a marketing tool? (If you can't tell from the thumbnail photo, the front cover photo shows a young woman diving into water. Her vulva, covered only by the thin strip of fabric of her bathing suit, is prominently featured. If she had any pubic hair, it would totally show. I think it's sensational and unnecessary.)

  • Kristiecollins
    2018-12-30 14:19

    An honest, sometimes painful, exploration of teenage girls' sexuality and intimate relationships. Not always comfortable but a very compelling read...

  • kittenlogic
    2019-01-05 15:19

    i read this years ago (it had to be like 10 years ago now that i think of it), and remember being delighted by the frequent and graphic sex that happens pretty early on. it was such a surprise, especially since i only grabbed this book because the cover was pretty. as i read on through the actual story, i grew to dislike the narrator. a lot. the only reason i remember this book so well is because it's the first time i really remember being disgusted by such a weak excuse for a woman. when i was reading this, i was about the same age as she was, with a terrible boyfriend too, so i wanted to be able to relate to her so badly. but she made so many poor choices, demonstrated repeatedly that she had no self-respect and no ambition, and was a generally disappointing human being. it was a real turn-off. for a coming of age novel, this was good, and was what got me into that "genre" (if you can call it one) in the first place. that said, i liked the idea of this; i just wish our protagonist was easier to sympathize with.

  • Don Hackett
    2019-01-16 17:07

    The first-person story of a young woman's life, the end of high school and the beginning of work in dead-end town. The focus is her sexual experiences and her first time living with a man, and her relationships with her (female) best friend. Her language in describing sex is very explicit but without dirty words or romantic euphemisms; a major theme is sex as relationship--how far up openness, honesty, and tenderness, how far down numbness, cheating, and brutality, can take you. The book begins with the narrator and her best friend making love with their boyfriends in the front and back seats of cars on date nights, nothing physically kinky, only a kind of merging, carried further in the the women's ability to tell each other anything. "Loss of Eden," separation and finding boundaries, growing up--ways to look at this story, and as I look at it I want to add another half star.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-12 15:17

    Library Read: I would recommend this as a library pickup.I think this would have worked better as a short story - it would have been a bit more impactful since I felt that the story was repetitive with no plot, it just went on in the same sorry state. There was little to no character development, everyone felt one dimensional. It was graphic but so much so that by the half way point, I became de-sensitized to all the sex scenes. All I kept thinking while I was reading was that it would be completely plausible if the author had interviewed one of the ladies from "Making a Murderer" and wrote a book based on their lives.I found myself more interested in June's story than in Vainy's. Perhaps if the author had switched back and forth from both girls' perspective, it would have been more substantive.

  • Carolyn Stanley
    2019-01-17 14:23

    I am by far not a prude and of course I didn't mind the graphic parts (which is 90% of the story and what the 2 stars are for) but I was waiting for some substance in this book. I thought the characters were poorly developed and went nowhere. The main character Vangie at one point says something about the truck her dad gave her "even if it did have 87,000 miles" made my head spin. How do you feel sorry for someone who says that? At 17/18 I think my used car had 162,000 miles on it. And while still in high school her dad rents a studio apartment for her. He "tries". It was really difficult to feel sorry for this girl looking for love and validation. June's character was strange and I never really understood her. I'm actually mad I got sucked into this stupid book.Life would be perfect if I could get my $9.99 back but that's not realistic so on to the next book.

  • Barbara
    2019-01-09 17:58

    WOW! What a story! Rough living, hard life lessons, heartbreaking relationship realities in the young lives of 2 gal pals & their boyfriends. Can't say that I enjoyed the abundance of the rough language & explicit sexual acts but realized quickly how necessary all of this was to set the personalities, class level & mood of this story. Unlike many other reviewers, I did like the characters after I began reading between the lines. I came away from this story learning that each of us experience life differently and that everyone's perception of exceptible behavior is different. This author did a fabulous job with character development of troubled teenagers; she's surely an excellent observant high school teacher.A very quick read that I'm very glad I read.

  • Patricia
    2019-01-14 13:04

    WARNING...the most explicit sex I have ever read... some of you reading this probably have had your share of early sexual experiences, but be prepared to be shocked at some of the situations and positions this 18-year old protagonist, Vangie, gets herself into. After all the rough sex and demeaning and humiliating experiences with her boyfriend and other men, it all comes down to a young girl not really knowing how to grow into a healthy young woman and stand her ground and set limits for others and most importantly herself. Give it a chance Vangie grow. You might find there is a little part of Vangie in you, too.

  • Loren
    2018-12-27 18:13

    Vangie is a graduating high school senior who just wants to make it through the day so that she can fuck her boyfriend, Del. That's how good it is. They move in together and work various jobs and do it and fight and do it some more. Then everything suddenly goes wrong in the kind of way that would only happen in some backwoods town where no one has gone away to college. This book has some of the best sex scenes I've ever read. Sex scenes are hard to do right, without being too gratuitously filthy or too precious, and Swimming Sweet Arrow has like ten of these, right after each other. Don't read this at work.

  • Sally Whitehead
    2019-01-04 13:09

    This is my first re-read in many years as I rarely read the same book twice. I first read this many years ago and it takes me back to my favourite old literary haunt of small town America, coming of age novels. Unlike many coming-of-age novels though there is no bittersweet here, no "Wonder Years" moment of sudden clarity; it's a raw, vivid (frequently sexually graphic, and certainly not for the faint hearted) depiction of a bored, bright but unambitious small town girl's sexual awakening. It's grim, it's unpleasant, it's depressing, but it's honesty is rare and refreshing.

  • Amber
    2019-01-16 19:13

    Waaay too much description in the sex scenes for me, thanks. As I was reading this book, I kept thinking what would this book be like without all of the sex scenes? Really there wouldn't be much else. I think the author could have done a lot with the plot if she wasn't so focused on sex. I'm interested in reading other books by this author only just to see if she is capable of writing anything else.

  • Bruno
    2018-12-29 18:12

    In de Nederlandse literatuur zouden we dat waarschijnlijk als een naturalistische/deterministische roman bestempelen. De beschrijvingen zijn rauw maar neutraal, en ondanks de toch behoorlijk grimmige uitzichten blijft de lezer hoopvol in de toekomst voor het hoofdpersonnage. Er zit nogal wat seks in dit boek, maar alles is zeer functioneel en toepasselijk voor het verhaal. Een onterecht onbekend werk, zeker de moeite van het lezen!

  • Recynd
    2019-01-01 16:09

    This book was a surprise...I wasn't expecting it to be so sexed up!I loved the working-class protagonist and the way she struggled with insights and self-reflection; I am rarely aware of my own feelings towards particular characters, but in this case, I couldn't help BUT respect Vangie.Memorable, and even a little shocking in its graphic focus on sex (personally, I don't think it hurts us at all to be a teensy bit shocked sometimes); I'm grateful I stumbled upon this one.

  • Carol
    2019-01-16 16:05

    Another warning. This book is VERY explicit. I didn't see that coming. I have mixed feelings about this book. First off I loved that it was short, only 205 pages. Made it a quick read. The story line was good. I really loved the main character and I love the ending. Did it need so much graphic sex?? I'm not sure. Maybe the characters wouldn't of been who they were without it. If you can handle explicit sex in a book, I'd say read it.