My mom read this book aloud to me and my brothers when I was little. Retta is in charge of her two little brothers since her mom died.
Written in 1980, it brings to life summers when kids disappeared for days at a time, when there were no planned activities, and each day held its own possibilities. Maybe because I live with a 9 and 11 year old, I did not find the gentle bickering contained in this book to be a theme.
I dont know what kids now days would think of books like these.
It is the story of three children living with their widowed father.
The kids are not supposed to use the pool, which belongs to the Captain, but Retta still feels somehow entitled to use it, as though it makes up for some miscalculation of the universe that allows her particular family to miss out on a chance at a better life. Like many other Byars stories, The Night Swimmers has a very small, contained setting populated by just a few characters. The relationships between the characters come to life as Retta interacts with her dad, her brothers, and her father's girlfriend.
The Night Swimmers by Betsy Byars tells the story of three children who have essentially lost both their parents the night their mother died. I think along the way the boys lose sight of all the things she has given up for them which makes them come off as selfish but it's hard not to acknowledge that children are like that. It's something that I think a lot of people struggle with once a loved one passes away. No, I think that he is just struggling to grasp at the few things he can control and the ruin left behind when his wife died. I think that if his wife were alive and the story was different, Shorty would've been a great father but things happened.
This story follows three kids Retta, Johnny and Roy and they are basically like orphans. Retta also is to busy looking after the boys so she can't make friends so once Arthur a boy who befriends Johnny Retta is jealous. Roy on the other hand is like a back ground character like he rarely does anything he only is apart of the story at the end when he almost drowns because Retta chases after Johnny cause he snuck out and so Roy is scared so he thinks they went swimming without him so he does a dolphin dive in the pool in the deep end and almost drowns. Roy thought also that Retta, Johnny and Arthur went swimming that is when he almost drowned (thought I should of shed more light on it).
Betsy Byars originally released this story in 1980 and it won the National Book Award in 1981. Night Swimmers is primarily a story about the siblings facing reality - no one is concerned about them, they have no one watching over them, and they feel no one loves them. Themes of this title are: siblings, growing up, responsibility, doing the right thing, belonging, dreams of a better life, what makes a family, kids acting as parents, dealing with loss, and letting go.
Through Byars' vivid realistic writing, you understand the underlying motivations for why these miserable kids act the way they do: death of a Mother and and absent Father leaving Retta to become a surrogate mother figure for her brothers.
Betsy Byars has written over sixty books for young people. Among them are the Newbery Medal in 1971 for her novel The Summer of the Swans, the American Book Award in 1981 for The Night Swimmers, The Edgar (for the best mystery for young people) in 1992 for Wanted..Mud Blossom and the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association for the body of her work.