Sixteen-year-old Bart Lively desperately wants to feel comfortable in his own skin. Being a jock doesn't mean he isn't the target of gay jokes, and the macho culture of his swim team is wearing him down. When he gives in to his curiosity and tries synchronized swimming, he discovers he has a natural talent -- not to mention a spark with one of the girls. So when Erika Tenaka asks him to swim the mixed duet with her, he commits to taking them all the way to the Olympics.
But judges' scores and Erika's sudden decision to quit the duet threaten to derail Bart's dream and kill what made the sport so liberating and alluring in the first place. And it doesn't help that as he falls in love with Erika, he's falling in lust with her frenemy . .. not to mention a cute boy in the diving club.
Ultimately, Bart will have to give in to his intuition as it leads him to realize there are many ways to be a boy. If he doesn't, he'll lose not only his friendship with Erika but also his new Olympic dream -- and the joy he feels as he dances in the deep.
Shannon McFerran studied writing at the University of Victoria and earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She has published short stories in numerous literary magazines and a YA anthology. Synchro Boy is her first novel. She lives in Victoria, BC.
I love Synchro Boy! I think it is very true to the sport of synchronized swimming. Thank you so much for writing this! -Bill May, synchronized swimming champion
Synchro Boy is a funny, bittersweet story of a teenaged boy's self-awareness and acceptance, set within that ultimate crucible of teenage lust: the swimming pool. By joining synchro, Bart pushes against the narrow cage of masculinity, only to discover just how hard the bars will push back. Armed with perseverance, hope, and some edifying relationships, he finds the courage to follow his synchro dreams. Readers will come to know and appreciate the challenge and camaraderie of synchronized swimming. -Douglas Davey, author of Switch
A sports novel with so much heart, Synchro Boy dives deep into a pool of assumptions, cruelty and other people's expectations, and emerges victorious and hopeful. -Karen Rivers, author of Love, ish and The Girl in the Well Is Me
With sparkling dialogue and outstanding, believable supporting characters, Shannon McFerran has crafted a captivating debut novel with Olympic-size heart and depth about a young man who bucks gender stereotypes to follow his own path to happiness. Synchro Boy will have you cheering and leave you breathless. Dive in! -Warren Firschein, author of Out of Synch
Bart's eventual acceptance that he is bisexual gives him the confidence to lean into synchro while easing off on the need to validate his own masculinity through sporting achievements. A nuanced, compassionate exploration of male sexuality and identity. -Kirkus Reviews
Synchro Boy is the kind of book the world needs more of: a book that challenges readers to think more deeply about gender and gender expression. Bart's story -- of a boy who has never fit easily into a gender stereotyped box, whohas endured years of gender policing, who is bravely determined to find his own path in both sports and relationships -- is an important and powerful one. Readers will cheer Bart on as he swims his way towards "living a different kind of maleness. " -Robin Stevenson, author of Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community