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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,330 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ann Packer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2011 ISBN: 9780307877932
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From Ann Packer, author of the New York Times best-selling novels The Dive from Clausen’s Pier andSongs Without Words, a collection of burnished, emotionally searing stories, framed by two unforgettable linked narratives that express the transformation of a single family over the course of a lifetime.A wife struggles to make sense of her husband’s sudden disappearance. A mother mourns her teenage son through the music collection he left behind. A woman shepherds her estranged parents through her brother’s wedding and reflects on the year her family collapsed. A young man comes to grips with the joy—and vulnerability—of fatherhood. And, in the masterly opening novella, two teenagers from very different families forge a sustaining friendship, only to discover the disruptive and unsettling power of sex.Ann Packer is one of our most talented archivists of family life, with its hidden crevasses and unforeseeable perils, and in these stories she explores the moral predicaments that define our social and emotional lives, the frailty of ordinary grace, and the ways in which we are shattered and remade by loss. With Swim Back to Me, she delivers shimmering psychological precision, unfailing intelligence, and page-turning drama: her most enticing work yet. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Danielle Bray | 2/19/2014

    " I put this down half way through. Depressing and just not interesting enough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dori | 2/15/2014

    " Love her writing style. So honest in her descriptions in a way that makes you think "exactly1" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison Herman | 2/13/2014

    " I love Ann Packer's writing. I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but this was great. Each story felt like it could have been a book, but I liked that I only got a short snippet of the character's lives. Hard to choose my favorite story. I could certainly relate to many of the characters, which is why I'll read anything Ann Packer does. If you like fiction that feels like you could live it this is the book (and the writer) for you. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lillian | 1/22/2014

    " A beautiful collection of heartwarming/heartbreaking short stories, bookended by two magically linked narratives, absolutely memorable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jody | 1/9/2014

    " 3.5 rating -- some excellent short stories in this collection, particularly the opening story, which is more of a novella. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracy Treanor | 1/8/2014

    " I listened to this on audio...( I drive WAY TOO MUCH) and didn't love all the stories equally. I don't normally gra books that are a collection of stories because if I don't like one, I have a tendency to return the book. However, there were many different readers for the many stories and it held my interest. I also love Ann Packer's writing - she can really turn a phrase! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ronya Misleh | 1/7/2014

    " Short stories were a nice departure from the other things I have been reading lately. And Ann Packer is always a pleasure--deep enough so you don't feel stupid but not too deep that you feel stupid. I liked how the compilation had bookend stories, giving us some of the characters from the first story in the last. I will say the first story was much more enjoyable and had more depth than the last one. The rest of the stories were also well-done, though there was one in particular that really left you wanting more (but, sometimes that is the point of a short story). A quick and easy read that leaves you feeling accomplished and not like you wasted a bunch of time, mental energy, and words. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Swiftyjess | 12/21/2013

    " I didn't have high expectations for this book. I give this collection two stars; one star each for the excellent stories -- "Molten" and "Dwell Time". The other stories, such as "Jump" and especially the "novella" in the beginning, lack finesse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 12/19/2013

    " A well-written collection of short stories, mostly concerning relationships and deep human emotions. Quite moving. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cheri | 12/15/2013

    " Oh, for an editor on "Walk for Mankind". Oh, for someone to suggest the "Molten" had been written before - and better. (And yes, unlike others here, I am an avid short-story reader. Wish more people were.) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eleanor | 12/12/2013

    " Liked the first story ... but can't recommend "short stories" because they aren't what I like to read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martie Nees Record | 11/7/2013

    " A novella and five tender stories filled with the many ups and downs, joys and hurts, and sometimes the painful losses of family life. Very good but my favorite by Packer is still "The Dive From Clausen's Pier." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Becca | 9/20/2013

    " Good short stories, engrossing and raising serious issues in a pleasant way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linnet | 9/15/2013

    " This collection of short stories begins with Richard, reflecting on his friend Sasha in the year they were both 14. The last story is Sasha, years later, at her brother's wedding. In between, the stories are of ordinary people, leading ordinary lives, but with a twist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Candice | 8/27/2013

    " Good. I didn't know that it was a book of short stories before I started reading it. I would've liked if each story was longer; I wanted to read more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheila | 8/16/2013

    " Six novellas each of which has stayed with me and made me reflect. Families, coming of age, loss and unexpected behaviors all make for compelling reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen | 3/24/2013

    " Liked the novella and the last story was a treat. The short stories were a bit overwrought, in a couple of senses of that word. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jenn Stevens | 7/23/2012

    " Liked some of it, but some of these had that literary magazine short story feel that a lot of stories seem to have. I feel like so many of them are the same in some way I can't really describe. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kimberly Woodlief | 5/18/2012

    " was a quick read but not my cup of tea "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Suep | 2/18/2012

    " This was another Bookclub read. I disliked it. I tried to 'get it' but failed. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. The short story about the death of the teenaged son did me in! Even in the depths of grief, I find the character's final actions horrible! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Davina | 1/27/2012

    " I typically do not faver short stories, but I enjoyed this much more than expected. I read this in anticipation of Booktopia Santa Cruz. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deb Holden | 12/12/2011

    " Short stories. Much better than The Dive from Clausen's Pier. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Frances | 10/30/2011

    " The first novella, combined with the final, related short story, was my favorite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Umwalsh | 7/17/2011

    " I really liked these stories and her writing "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Martira | 7/3/2011

    " A solid collection, but the following stories do not live up to the novella that opens the book. Several of the stories are built on shards of grief; I probably wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is in a fragile place right now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bradley | 6/30/2011

    " This is a marvelous short story collection by the author of The Dive From Clausen's Pier. I really loved the second story, Molten. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 6/25/2011

    " I'm not a huge short story fan in general, but I like Ann Packer so I thought I'd give it a shot. The stories are well-written, with very interesting characters, but there just wasn't enough for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheri | 6/20/2011

    " Oh, for an editor on "Walk for Mankind". Oh, for someone to suggest the "Molten" had been written before - and better. (And yes, unlike others here, I am an avid short-story reader. Wish more people were.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 6/20/2011

    " Six short stories, six snapshots of the different shapes loss and grief can take in different people's lives. Loss is a real part of life. Does it define us or do we define it? Interesting how one moment or event can change one's life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adele | 6/7/2011

    " Unabridged audioversion. A gem. Not a wasted word in these stories of contemporary American life, each one exploring aspects of personal loss or regret. I almost missed that the first and last story are related, glad I saw that mentioned in a review. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marcia | 6/4/2011

    " I saw a review that compared this to Olive Kitteridge. NOT! Ugghhh....short stories that went on way to long about nothing of interest. Narrative with no point. Couldn't finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sally | 6/1/2011

    " Excellent book of short stories! Damaged characters who"stay calm and carry on." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carissa | 5/31/2011

    " Nice characters. Nice stories .
    Not holding my attention the way I hoped
    Took me a while to get through it
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann | 5/30/2011

    " A series of short stories (although the first story is the longest); all connected by the setting in northern California. The writing is very clear with a feeling of sadness woven through although I didn't find it off-putting. This was a good quick read with stories that stay with you for awhile. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 D | 5/30/2011

    " I didn't really see how each story connected; I just wanted the full tale for each story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angela | 5/27/2011

    " A great collection of short stories. Many will stay with you and make you think about the characters for a long time. It's amazing that they are short stories and you get to know the characters and their lives so well... "

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About the Author
Author Ann PackerAnn Packer is the author of two bestselling novels, Songs Without Words (2007) and The Dive from Clausen's Pier (2002), and two collections of short fiction, Swim Back to Me (2011) and Mendocino and Other Stories (1994). She lives in northern California.