Caterpillars Can't Swim

  • Pages:256
  • Publisher:Second Story Press
  • Themes:coming out, gay teen depression, teen crossdresser, queer teen, disability stereotypes
  • Available:09/12/2017
  • Age Groups:Fiction Ages 12+
Ryan, who uses a wheelchair, is at his most confident when he's in the water. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from drowning 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. When 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 tries to define them by.
Caterpillars Can’t Swim is an encouraging story about what’s possible if teens choose to accept the people around them.
– Foreword Reviews
This is a strong addition to the canon of literature in Canada that works within realms of sexual diversity and disability. A thought-provoking and compelling narrative that teenage fans of character-driven books will definitely enjoy.
– Canadian Review of Materials
In Caterpillars Can’t Swim, [Liane Shaw] examines the prejudices people exert on those who are different – whether those differences are perceived or real – and crafts a plot that ensures understanding and acceptance.... By casting Ryan, whose cerebral palsy defines him for so many, in the role of hero, Shaw changes up the expected narrative.
– Quill & Quire
November 15, 2017

Unable to walk because of his cerebral palsy, 16-year-old Ryan is resigned to living in his wheelchair—except when he’s in the water. “I seriously love being in the water,” he tells readers in his first-person story, explaining that when he’s in the pool, gravity is no longer his enemy and he can move around “like anyone else.” As a result, he has become a talented swimmer and is a member of his high- school team. His skill in the water becomes imperative when he rescues Jack, a classmate, from drowning, and in the process learns two unwanted secrets: Jack was attempting suicide and he’s gay. Ryan, who is straight, keeps Jack’s secrets while the two boys begin a cautious friendship. Jack becomes increasingly determined to come out, though he’s terrified at what his religious, single-parent mother might think. Concerned, Ryan wants to help, but what can he do? Shaw has written a compassionate, well-crafted story about two boys dealing bravely with challenges and finding support in friendship.
– Booklist
Shaw has written a compassionate, well-crafted story about two boys dealing bravely with challenges and finding support in friendship.
– Booklist
The Rainbow Book List   | 2019  |  Commended
Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens Selection   | 2018  |  Commended
Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities – IBBY Canada List   | 2019  |  Commended