Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.
Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.
Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?
But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…
She smiles at me again. No one smiling at me has ever made me forget to breathe. I am unaccustomed to the thrill of it, of being smiled at by someone so beautiful. I feel like I’m a Jane Austen character, swooning like the silly girl in Northanger Abbey who is obsessed with novels.
Steph Bowe was born in Melbourne in 1994. She began her writing career as a blogger, before publishing her first YA novel in 2010, at age sixteen. Girl Saves Boy was aptly descibed by Rebecca Stead as ‘full of the absolute truth—life is complicated’. Steph went on to publish two further YA novels, All This Could End, which was longlisted for the 2014 Gold Inky Award, and Night Swimming, a Children’s Book Council of Australian (CBCA) Notable Book in 2018, when it was also longlisted for a Sisters in Crime Davitt Award. In 2016 Steph was a May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust fellow. Her books have been translated into Spanish, Dutch and Catalan. Steph died on 20 January 2020, aged twenty-five, due to complications from T-cell acute lymphoblastic lymphoma, a form of leukaemia.
‘A funny, diverse, authentic story of family, love, musicals, crop-circles and goats.’ Lili Wilkinson
‘Night Swimming is at once sweet and serious; a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex—it's an ode to first times and best friends...but above all else, it's a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst.’ Alpha Reader
‘A tender, quirky love story full of charm, authenticity, and goats.’ Sydney Morning Herald, Brilliant Reads from 2017
‘Steph Bowe’s latest novel is the utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.’ Erin Gough
'She has an ease of style that makes you feel you are eavesdropping on a real conversation, not reading cleverly crafted lines of dialogue.' ABC Radio Central West
‘Night Swimming is a sweet story of coming of age, family and first requited love. There is a genuine-feeling desire in the story to see the good intentions in lightly sketched but complex characters, which gives the book a lot of heart. It will appeal to fans of realistic Australian YA and to readers searching for sweet and hopeful queer love stories.’ Books+Publishing
‘This bittersweet comedy of romantic misunderstanding, life management and family relations is poised at the emotional intersection between forgiveness and self-acceptance. Despite its whimsical tone, Night Swimming tackles serious themes of mental health, family upheaval and sexual coming-out with commendable delicacy and humanity.’ Readings
‘Night Swimming is full of adorable moments, a swoon-worthy and realistic romance and a diverse range of characters, this has got to be one of my favourite Aussie releases of 2017.’ Written Word Worlds
‘Brilliant and adorable and diverse and funny…Steph Bowe is basically my idol. Loony Literate
‘Night Swimmingis absolutely glorious! A charismatic, delightful and amusing narrative of a small country town, falling in love and immense dreams. Categorically enchanting and captivating until the final page. The diversity of characters were wonderfully portrayed.’ Diva Book Nerd
‘I loved reading this. I ate it faster than a goat with a tasty golden slipper! The writing style and banter is honestly what I live for and Clancy and Kirby’s friendship was so golden. Plus cute romance, delicious food, so much awesome awkward and all the coming-of-age fears and questions teens face which is just relatable.’ Paper Fury
‘This beautifully written coming-of-age story by Steph Bowe explores, with the gentlest of touches, big themes such as identity, friendship, loyalty and the power of love in its many guises, with intelligence and humour. A winner of a story that will keep you hooked to the very end.’ Reading Time
‘This is a story with a whole lot of heart and soul. A great representation of a multi-cultural community, LGBTI issues, first love and country spirit…A lovely Aussie YA read.’ Kids Book Review
‘Night Swimming is a quirky, adorable coming of age story featuring a lesbian main character. With complex family issues, an Indian love interest and a platonic male best friend, Night Swimming is a very real and relatable read that tackles diversity beautifully.’ Happy Indulgence
‘A gentle, heartfelt tale of first love, friendship and fear of change set in a small, inland country town south of Sydney…Bowe works quietly and perceptively through a range of believable situations.’ Magpies
‘Night Swimming is amusing, quirky, and all heart.’ Bookish Manicurist
‘Night Swimming explores the challenges of not fitting in and finding the people who actually get you…A charming coming-of-age story.’ Northerly Magazine
‘A fun, quirky read with oodles of romance and capers.’ Readings