Deep Water (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

A novel-in-verse about a young girl attempting the swimming portion of a triathlon. (It's hard.) Her best friend Arch is trying to be supportive, but she is dealing with the loss of her mother, who was her biggest fan. As she negotiates the water (and impending storm), we negotiate as well. Sumner brings us a very serious novel about recovery. For fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan and Sharon Creech.

— Valerie


“Readers will feel every wave of Tully’s emotions as she risks everything to try to get her mom’s attention. A powerful novel in verse.” —Lisa Fipps, author of Printz Honor book Starfish

An impactful, gripping middle grade novel in verse from acclaimed author Jamie Sumner that spans one girl’s marathon swim over twelve miles and six hours, calling her mom back home with every stroke.

Six hours.
One marathon swim.

That’s all Tully Birch needs to get her life straightened out. With the help of her best friend, Arch, Tully braves the waters of Lake Tahoe to break the record for the youngest person ever to complete the famous “Godfather swim.” She wants to achieve something no one in the world has done, because if she does, maybe, just maybe, her mom will come back.

The swim starts off well—heart steady, body loose, Arch in charge of snacks as needed. But for Tully, all that time alone with her thoughts allows memories to surface. And in the silence of deep waters, sadness can sink you. When the swim turns dangerous, Tully fights for her survival. Does she keep going and risk her own safety and Arch’s? Or does she quit to save them both, even if it means giving up hope that her mother will return?

About the Author

Jamie Sumner is the author of Roll with ItTime to Roll, Rolling OnTune It OutOne Kid’s TrashThe Summer of JuneMaid for It, and Deep Water. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and other publications. She loves stories that celebrate the grit and beauty in all kids. She is also the mother of a son with cerebral palsy and has written extensively about parenting a child with special needs. She and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit her at

Praise For…

"Packs a powerful punch."
Kirkus Reviews

"Each mile not only propels the race forward but delves deeper into Tully’s life story, drawing readers into her struggles and emotions. . . A wonderful read that will resonate with athletes, those navigating family challenges, and even reluctant readers; a strong addition to all middle grade library collections." 
School Library Journal

"[In] this carefully crafted verse novel . . . Sumner compassionately examines the effects that living with a parent managing mental health challenges can have on a child."
Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9781665935067
ISBN-10: 1665935065
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 9th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English