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Geese Are Never Swans

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Gus's life is about one thing-- swimming. He is determined to make it to the Olympics and he knows that the only coach in town who can get him there is Coach Marks. So it seems like a simple plan: convince Coach Marks to train him. Everything from there on in is just hard work and Gus has never been afraid of hard work. But there are a few complications. For one thing, Coac Gus's life is about one thing-- swimming. He is determined to make it to the Olympics and he knows that the only coach in town who can get him there is Coach Marks. So it seems like a simple plan: convince Coach Marks to train him. Everything from there on in is just hard work and Gus has never been afraid of hard work. But there are a few complications. For one thing, Coach Marks was Danny's coach. Danny, Gus's older brother, committed suicide after failing to make the national swimming team, a big step on the way to the Olympics. And for another thing, Gus and Danny didn't exactly get along when Danny was alive. Gus never liked living in Danny's shadow, and that shadow has grown even longer since Danny's death. In this powerful novel about the punishing and the healing nature of sports, Gus's rage threatens to swallow him at every turn. He's angry at his brother, his mother, his coach . . . even himself. But as he works through his feelings and toward his goal, Gus does everything he can to channel his anger into excelling at the sport that he and Danny both loved, finding solace in the same place he must face his demons: the water.


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Gus's life is about one thing-- swimming. He is determined to make it to the Olympics and he knows that the only coach in town who can get him there is Coach Marks. So it seems like a simple plan: convince Coach Marks to train him. Everything from there on in is just hard work and Gus has never been afraid of hard work. But there are a few complications. For one thing, Coac Gus's life is about one thing-- swimming. He is determined to make it to the Olympics and he knows that the only coach in town who can get him there is Coach Marks. So it seems like a simple plan: convince Coach Marks to train him. Everything from there on in is just hard work and Gus has never been afraid of hard work. But there are a few complications. For one thing, Coach Marks was Danny's coach. Danny, Gus's older brother, committed suicide after failing to make the national swimming team, a big step on the way to the Olympics. And for another thing, Gus and Danny didn't exactly get along when Danny was alive. Gus never liked living in Danny's shadow, and that shadow has grown even longer since Danny's death. In this powerful novel about the punishing and the healing nature of sports, Gus's rage threatens to swallow him at every turn. He's angry at his brother, his mother, his coach . . . even himself. But as he works through his feelings and toward his goal, Gus does everything he can to channel his anger into excelling at the sport that he and Danny both loved, finding solace in the same place he must face his demons: the water.

30 review for Geese Are Never Swans

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    Geese Are Never Swans tells the story of Gus, a high school swimmer reeling from his brother’s suicide. Danny was an elite swimmer, well recognized and praised for his athletic achievements. Gus is tired of living in Danny’s shadow, resentful of his success and favoritism. He is determined to show the world he’s a better swimmer and can finish what Danny never accomplished: making the Olympic team. Gus approaches Danny’s swim coach to enlist his help in getting the job done. I wanted to love thi Geese Are Never Swans tells the story of Gus, a high school swimmer reeling from his brother’s suicide. Danny was an elite swimmer, well recognized and praised for his athletic achievements. Gus is tired of living in Danny’s shadow, resentful of his success and favoritism. He is determined to show the world he’s a better swimmer and can finish what Danny never accomplished: making the Olympic team. Gus approaches Danny’s swim coach to enlist his help in getting the job done. I wanted to love this one — Kobe Bryant is one of the creators which is how I became aware of the book and why I had an interest in reading it. Geese Are Never Swans was good, but not a favorite. Major themes in the book include grief, anger, suicide, and mental health of athletes, in addition to the common teenage theme of peer pressure. It was darker than I expected it to be, yet a timely read that may be helpful for its YA audience, struggling with some of Gus’s same feelings. I did enjoy the occasional artwork throughout the book too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    ***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS by Eva Clark in exchange for my honest review.*** After Gus’s brother commits suicide, he puts his energy into making the Olympic trials in swimming, a goal Danny pursued. Filled with anger, Gus pushes away his coach and those who try to help him as he spirals into depression. GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS takes readers in places books rarely do. Rather than making Danny a benevolent victim of depression, Eva Clark wrote ***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS by Eva Clark in exchange for my honest review.*** After Gus’s brother commits suicide, he puts his energy into making the Olympic trials in swimming, a goal Danny pursued. Filled with anger, Gus pushes away his coach and those who try to help him as he spirals into depression. GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS takes readers in places books rarely do. Rather than making Danny a benevolent victim of depression, Eva Clark wrote Gus’s brother as a bully. Though traumatized by finding the body, Gus is filled with hate for his brother, who took all their mother’s love an attention. The mom is a piece of work, doting on Danny, emotionally absent and abusive to Gus. Clark didn’t answer many of my questions about Danny’s suicide letters, his childhood issues, the sister’s drug use or the mom’s problems. One short conversation didn’t do it for me. GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS is an important book on the strength in seeking support and asking for help, particularly for male athletes and how therapy and medication can improve life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Okay, so I’m a mess at finishing this book and truly at the halfway point I would not have expected that at all. I went into this book blind, knowing nothing about it other than it involved swimming, but this book is about so much more than that. Whilst reading this book I ironically appreciated the mess, the anger, the sadness and the outrage of the characters, particularly Gus, and recognising that you cannot exist in a vortex. That you can be all those things and still have hope, have dreams Okay, so I’m a mess at finishing this book and truly at the halfway point I would not have expected that at all. I went into this book blind, knowing nothing about it other than it involved swimming, but this book is about so much more than that. Whilst reading this book I ironically appreciated the mess, the anger, the sadness and the outrage of the characters, particularly Gus, and recognising that you cannot exist in a vortex. That you can be all those things and still have hope, have dreams and want to be your own self. There is much to take away from this book, but the thing that stands out most right now, is that healing and grief is a process. And perhaps this review is a bit more philosophical that I would normally write, but underneath the wonderful writing and plot that keeps you entranced from cover to cover, what will truly stay with me is the very real depiction of mental illness. As someone who spent most of their teenage years battling suicidal depression, I also really appreciated that it was not a topic explored with stigma attached, but through the lens of what it’s actually like to deal with both the illness yourself and the ramifications of others experiences with it as well. Like many books this one does end with a happy ending, but it also foretells that Gus and those around him are on a journey that doesn’t just end on the final page. It encapsulates in words so much more about depression and suicide than this review does it justice, but simply put, I did not expect for it to affect me this much or to be so glad to have found and read this one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Gus was pain personified. Not only was he reeling from his brother's death by suicide, he was also carrying around a lifetime of guilt related to his father's death. Struggling with all these emotions, he chose to be angry and to lash out at anyone who tried to get too close. Getting back into swimming was something that was both good and bad for him. He was spiraling out, eventually hit bottom, and it was surprising who was there to pick him back up and encourage his recovery. This book was ver Gus was pain personified. Not only was he reeling from his brother's death by suicide, he was also carrying around a lifetime of guilt related to his father's death. Struggling with all these emotions, he chose to be angry and to lash out at anyone who tried to get too close. Getting back into swimming was something that was both good and bad for him. He was spiraling out, eventually hit bottom, and it was surprising who was there to pick him back up and encourage his recovery. This book was very pro-therapy and pro-medication, which I appreciated, and shined a spotlight on some of the attitudes people have regarding mental health issues and how damaging those ideas are. This was a tough read at times, but ultimately, it was hopeful. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Just, WOW. Highly recommend.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Steinberg

    “Whether goose or swan, I have wings. And I’ll fly.” Gus Bennett is so assured that he is going to be a better swimmer than his brother Danny that he plans to put his memory to shame. That’s right. Danny has recently committed suicide and rather than mourn his passing, Gus is determined to become a more celebrated athlete. Geese Are Never Swans tells the story of a grieving young man who fuels his anger at life, his mother and his past into becoming the best swimmer – even at his own expense. Gus “Whether goose or swan, I have wings. And I’ll fly.” Gus Bennett is so assured that he is going to be a better swimmer than his brother Danny that he plans to put his memory to shame. That’s right. Danny has recently committed suicide and rather than mourn his passing, Gus is determined to become a more celebrated athlete. Geese Are Never Swans tells the story of a grieving young man who fuels his anger at life, his mother and his past into becoming the best swimmer – even at his own expense. Gus Bennett is an angry teenager. Scratch that. He’s more than angry. He’s pissed off. He’s father passed away when he was being born and his mother held it against Gus for most of his life and doted on his older brother, Danny – who ended up becoming a star swimmer. His sister Darien was an addict and has left her infant daughter Winter in the care of their mother. So, life isn’t going so well for Gus. Gus and his lack of filter find their way to Danny’s former mentor, Coach Marks. Gus’ plan is that if he can convince Coach Marks to train him then he feels he is guaranteed to make it to the Olympic Trials. Coach Marks submits and the training begins. Not one for making friends seems to somehow work in Gus’ favor because while his teammates aren’t his pals, his blunt responses and determination do earn their respect. Plus, Gus is not half bad in the pool afterall. Unfortunately, Gus’ home life remains in turmoil as the Bennett family’s loss has divided them even further than they had been. It isn’t until Coach Marks reaches out to Gus’ mom that he starts getting a bit of true motherly attention. In fact, Gus only seems invested in his family when it comes to niece Winter…but only to a point. He also has been in group therapy to work through the loss of his brother, but isn’t at all interested in bonding with his fellow teenagers united by grief. He really only seems to want to connect in his brother’s former girlfriend Lainey, as she took time to talk to get to know him when she dated Danny. However, things come crashing down for Gus when he makes his way to a party where he does some drinking…and driving. His mother is seriously sick with the flu and tasks him with getting her flu medicine, but upon seeing Lainey at the drug store he ends up following her to the gathering. Upon drinking plenty of “truth serum,” he spills out his real feelings of guilt over being the cause for his father’s death and how his mother really only ever loved his older brother. Gus ends up at Coach Marks’ home where he is confronted by his mentor. It isn’t until Gus makes it home though that his world really completely crumbles. I won’t give away the remaining plot, but mental health plays a major role in this book. It shines a light on the pressures that athletes in the limelight face and that grief can take many forms. Geese Are Never Swans is written by author Eva Clark, who is actually a psychologist whose work focuses mainly on mental health, social justice and sports. Therefore, she is quite qualified and gives a truthful insight into Gus’ pain. The book itself was created by basketball legend Kobe Bryant, one of the brightest sports stars there ever was. So, we surely see where the inspiration for Gus’ determination to succeed came from as well. Geese Are Never Swans is a deep read that reminds its audience that no man is an island – we all need someone to lean on. Mental health is no longer a topic with a stigma, so this book does an excellent job of not just encouraging readers to seek assistance but also provides contact information for two leading mental health organizations within the athletic community – The Hidden Opponent and The Michael Phelps Foundation. And while geese may never be swans, perhaps the mantra from the titular character from Finding Dory of “just keep swimming” might have given this book a better metaphor.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Cresse

    Geese Are Never Swans is a sports YA novel told in a strong male voice. An angry, younger brother is living in the shadow of his older brother's suicide; trying to come to terms with his life purpose while pursuing his dream of making the Olympic swim team --the exact dream that his brother just threw away. This is a tale of sibling rivalry and the different ways of love within a family; of loss and victory; mental health and perseverance. The story is mostly made up of inner dialogue the main ch Geese Are Never Swans is a sports YA novel told in a strong male voice. An angry, younger brother is living in the shadow of his older brother's suicide; trying to come to terms with his life purpose while pursuing his dream of making the Olympic swim team --the exact dream that his brother just threw away. This is a tale of sibling rivalry and the different ways of love within a family; of loss and victory; mental health and perseverance. The story is mostly made up of inner dialogue the main character struggles through, making the story a bit slow. If teen readers hang on, by the half-way mark the story picks up speed and readers will be rewarded for sticking it out. Extra Note: I read the e-book, but when I saw the "Artist Biographies" listed at the end describing why they selected their work to go along with the story, I felt shortchanged since I had no images on my Kindle...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I wanted to like this more than I did. I am intrigued by Kobe Bryant's multimedia company and was happy to get the opportunity to read one of the books for older teens. The problem with this book is the story is told from the point of view of a rage-filled teen, Gus. And even though we see why Gus acts the way he does (trauma, anxiety, depression), it's hard to sympathize with a main character who refuses to listen to anyone and is a total jerk for most of the book. I had to force myself to keep I wanted to like this more than I did. I am intrigued by Kobe Bryant's multimedia company and was happy to get the opportunity to read one of the books for older teens. The problem with this book is the story is told from the point of view of a rage-filled teen, Gus. And even though we see why Gus acts the way he does (trauma, anxiety, depression), it's hard to sympathize with a main character who refuses to listen to anyone and is a total jerk for most of the book. I had to force myself to keep reading sometimes. There are good messages around what suicide does to loved ones and questioning the line between intense drive to succeed and compulsion. Read my full review at Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christine Irvin

    Gus’s older brother, Danny, was a champion swimmer. He taught Gus how to swim. But, Danny got all the glory, even though Gus was a good swimmer. The boys’ mother heaped her praise on Danny, and spent years promoting his career, pretty much leaving Gus on his own. After Danny commits suicide, Gus declares he isn’t sad that his brother is gone. All he wants to do is prove that he is a better swimmer than what his brother was or could ever have been. Can Gus get his mother to acknowledge his talents Gus’s older brother, Danny, was a champion swimmer. He taught Gus how to swim. But, Danny got all the glory, even though Gus was a good swimmer. The boys’ mother heaped her praise on Danny, and spent years promoting his career, pretty much leaving Gus on his own. After Danny commits suicide, Gus declares he isn’t sad that his brother is gone. All he wants to do is prove that he is a better swimmer than what his brother was or could ever have been. Can Gus get his mother to acknowledge his talents the way she did Danny’s? An emotionally packed tale about sibling rivalry, suicide, mental illness and a host of other topics.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Irishheather

    Got this book for my son who has read the other books by Kobe and loved them (Wizenard and Legacy of the Queen). There should have been a disclaimer on this book about explicit language - my son was so put off that the first sentence contained curse words and it continued in every paragraph. After 20 pages that was too much. We returned the book as he didn't want to read it anymore. Parents beware! This is not like Kobe's other books. I saw other reviews stating that this talked about sex an oth Got this book for my son who has read the other books by Kobe and loved them (Wizenard and Legacy of the Queen). There should have been a disclaimer on this book about explicit language - my son was so put off that the first sentence contained curse words and it continued in every paragraph. After 20 pages that was too much. We returned the book as he didn't want to read it anymore. Parents beware! This is not like Kobe's other books. I saw other reviews stating that this talked about sex an other series themes which are not appropriate for younger readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Caelia Moulton

    wow. i picked up this book on a whim only knowing it was about competitive swimming (aka my only other hobby other than swimming) but there is so much more to this book. it tackles the topic of sports and mental health and this book educated me on mental illnesses and how they can affect different people in so many different ways. i think that this is a very important read especially for those who dedicate a lot of their lives to a competitive sport as this was super eye opening

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul Kraus

    Geese Are Never Swans is an extremely powerful and well-written book. The tragedies that Gus and his family face throughout the book are such real experiences for so many, yet avoided extensively, especially in highly competitive sports. This story is fantastic and showing how being healthy, or working towards balance, in all aspects of a person's life can have a significant impact on their performance. A must read for athletes, coaches and mental health professionals working with athletes.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katie Al-Akhras

    I truly thought this story was going to be about a swimmer reaching for his dreams- the Olympics. But I came out with the perspective that the author and Kobe truly care for the mental health of athletes and kids/teens. This is a story that is gripping and compelling. It was a quick read that hit home the importance of mental health of kids, teens and adults.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Well written book about both the sport of swimming and mental health. Mental health, an often overlooked aspect in not only sports but life in general. This book does a good job of explaining the struggle from the perspective of a teen. Found the story very interesting and very relatable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Ryan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What an important novel about mental health and athletes. This book was incredibly hard to read at times as it explores and reveals some dark and difficult places. It was also incredibly hopeful and the ending was just how it should be.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Partman

    I really enjoyed this book. Couldn't put it down. I live in the area of where the story takes place. Having kids and knowing the pressure they live everyday with school, sports and social media. Be Nice....

  17. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This book was very moving. Sometimes hard to read. A 16 year old shouldn’t have to carry around that much anger and guilt. The writing is very raw and you can feel his pain, emotional and physical. Would definitely recommend for readers 16 and up.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Natalie White

    As a high school teacher, this book provided such great insight into the external and internal pressures students face daily.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    3.5 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sherri

    Very good read. The emotional toll that suicide has on families and the ripple effect that it has on everyone. Even those who don’t admit that they are affected by the death.

  21. 4 out of 5

    J. Tracey

    Not what I thought this book would be at all... disappointed...lots of swearing and not uplifting

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alexina

    Review forthcoming.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    It’s a amazing book

  24. 4 out of 5

    Oliver

    I’m only thirteen and I couldn’t stop reading this book it is by far my favorite book and it was a huge inspiration to me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Kopacek

    The artwork was amazing. I've never seen anything like it. The story is heartbreaking and uplifting and so important.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary Murphy

    Geese Are Never Swans created by Kobe Bryant and written by Eva Clark is an interesting novel. Gus Bennett is training to be an olympic swimmer. His father died before he was born, his sister handed her baby, Winter to his mother and walked out the door, and his brother Danny committed suicide not even a month before. Danny had always been their mother's favorite, he always got what he wanted and a professional swim coach. Gus and Danny both are incredible swimmers, but their mother would never Geese Are Never Swans created by Kobe Bryant and written by Eva Clark is an interesting novel. Gus Bennett is training to be an olympic swimmer. His father died before he was born, his sister handed her baby, Winter to his mother and walked out the door, and his brother Danny committed suicide not even a month before. Danny had always been their mother's favorite, he always got what he wanted and a professional swim coach. Gus and Danny both are incredible swimmers, but their mother would never let Gus near the pool forcing Gus to find other ways to get into the pool. This story takes place in Lafayette County, Indiana all throughout the county. The main theme that had stood out to me throughout the book was always follow your dreams no matter what obstacles you face. What initially hooked me as a reader was wondering what happened to Gus' brother and what Gus wanted to do to make himself better. The main conflict of this story is of Gus trying to get out of his brother's shadow. I absolutely loved this book and every challenge Gus faced was described in such detail that it felt like I was facing the challenges with him, because of this I would rate this book a 5 out of 5.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Annie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bethany M. Edwards

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Lepley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Irene

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