Audiobook Review: Swim the Fly by Don Calame

Title: Swim the Fly

Author: Don Calame

Narrator: Nick Podehl

Publisher: Candlewick Press / Brilliance Audio

Release Date: April 14th, 2009

Interest: Student recommended / Guy appeal / Contemporary

Source: Purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads): Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Sean and Coop, always set themselves a summer-time goal. This year’s? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time. As far as Matt is concerned, they’d have better luck finding the lost city of Atlantis. But seeing a girl in the buff starts to seem like child’s play compared to the other summertime goal Matt sets for himself: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) in order to impress Kelly West, the hot new girl. So what if he can’t manage a single lap, let alone four? He’s got the whole summer to perfect his technique. What could possibly go wrong?
From the Publisher (Brilliance Audio)

Duration: 07:30:46

Do you enjoy laughing out loud?  (I’m going to assume your answer is yes.)  Then you need to read Swim the Fly by Don Calame, or even better, listen to the audiobook.  Seriously.  Do it right now. 😉

I’m pretty sure Swim the Fly was first brought to my attention a year or so ago when someone posted a link about the author and how popular he and his book was at some middle school.  I read the article and decided I needed to add this book to my classroom library since it holds so much guy appeal.  Why did I wait so long to read it?!  I was in an audiobook lull when I decided to give Swim the Fly a shot.  I am SO HAPPY I did.

Nick Podehl is now my favorite audiobook narrator.  He’s simply awesome.  I love that he had a different, distinguished voice for every single character and never slipped when switching characters.  Listening to him narrate Don Calame’s story was like watching a movie, a completely hilarious and entertaining movie.  Honestly, I keep wondering if the book is as funny when reading traditionally as it is when listening to the audiobook.  I have a feeling Nick Podehl read it exactly how Don Calame heard it in his head when he was writing it.

The guy appeal in Swim the Fly is fantastic.  It’s full of “bathroom” humor which may or may not appeal to you, but while I’m being honest, I loved it in this book.  It’s honest humor.  I have a younger brother, so I easily remember the gross jokes he and his friends would tell.  I overheard plenty of their conversations.  Their jokes and conversations very much match the tone, situations, jokes, etc. found in Swim the Fly.  Besides the humor, it has quite a bit of heart too.  Matt may not have the most honorable intentions for his summer, but he’s kind and really a good guy.  He’s loyal to his friends and close with his mom, brother, and grandpa.  The scenes with his grandpa are priceless.  I laughed the hardest because of some of the things his grandpa said and did.  I loved seeing the different sides of Nick that presented themselves when he was with different characters.  He’s stumbling and awkward when he’s around Kelly, but at ease and himself when he’s around Valerie.  He holds back and does his best for his mom.  He’s usually a voice of reason when he’s hanging out with the guys.

The plot is kind of predictable, but I think you’ll be able to overlook that since the story itself is so entertaining.  I’ve only experienced Swim the Fly as an audiobook, so I can’t say how entertaining it is traditionally, but my students have been reading it like crazy.  I honestly think you should listen to the audio if you have the means because it’s that good.  As soon as I finished it I bought the next book, Beat the Band, which takes place at the end of the summer and is told from Coop’s point of view this time.  (Side note–it’s also super funny.)


  1. I’m going to alert my daughter’s MS librarian to this one. I’m going to see if my library has the audio.

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