Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday

Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday

Forced to become a child soldier, a sixteen-year-old Somali refugee must confront his painful past in this haunting, thrilling tale of loss and redemption for fans of A Long Way Gone and What is the WhatWhen Abdi's family is kidnapped, he's forced to do the unthinkable: become a child soldier with the ruthless jihadi group Al Shabaab. In order to save the lives of those he...

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Title:Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday
Author:Natalie C. Anderson
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday Reviews

  • Brian

    Abdi lives in Somalia and has to deal with some horrific stuff. The book flashes back between the present as the past as we learn about Abdi's brother, Dahir's abduction from his own home and into a radical religious group hellbent on getting revenge on non believers. Abdi is recruited by an American to infiltrate his brother's group and reveal their plans of attack. In the present, we find out that Abdi survives but is missing several fingers. The book does an excellent job of jumping between t

    Abdi lives in Somalia and has to deal with some horrific stuff. The book flashes back between the present as the past as we learn about Abdi's brother, Dahir's abduction from his own home and into a radical religious group hellbent on getting revenge on non believers. Abdi is recruited by an American to infiltrate his brother's group and reveal their plans of attack. In the present, we find out that Abdi survives but is missing several fingers. The book does an excellent job of jumping between the past and the present and filling in the holes that are left in the book at the beginning. The characters are appropriately written and are very sad. This was a very good page turner and an excellent read!

  • Shanah

    For this review and many others, please visit -

    As soon as I saw the GORGEOUS cover and read the synopsis – I knew that this would be a book that would leave a lasting impact. I wasn’t wrong! This book FAR exceeded my expectations! I read a book by this author before. It was called City of Saints and Thieves and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t perfect, but there were a few things that she did really well. I loved her writing, the dimensions and completeness

    For this review and many others, please visit -

    As soon as I saw the GORGEOUS cover and read the synopsis – I knew that this would be a book that would leave a lasting impact. I wasn’t wrong! This book FAR exceeded my expectations! I read a book by this author before. It was called City of Saints and Thieves and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t perfect, but there were a few things that she did really well. I loved her writing, the dimensions and completeness of her characters, her setting descriptions – and she actually made me enjoy a mystery! So I was very excited to read this novel!

    Almost immediately I was attached to this book. I picked it up with the intention to read a couple chapters……. before I knew it, a few hours had passed and I had read half the book! The writing sucked me in from the first page and made me desperate to know more!

    I will admit that the beginning of the book was a little disorienting and hard to keep track of. We follow Abdi in multiple points in his life. We see him now, after he was strapped to a suicide bomber vest, the point where he became a child soldier, the time he was kidnapped – all the while we saw flashbacks to his childhood. I struggled with this through the first 100 pages or so…. there was so much to learn about him, his life and his family. But, in the end, this was a VERY effective way to demonstrate his struggles and what made him who he is. The character development that was allowed through this format was absolutely phenomenal! Not only for Abdi, but for all the characters involved. We get to see them at different points in their lives and how certain events shaped them.

    Abdi as a character was so full of emotion. He’s a good kid. He just wanted a happy quiet life with his family. But when his brother was taken from school by “The Boys” and wasn’t heard from again, he feared the worst. Then him and his family are kidnapped, and he’s given a ray of hope. He finds that his brother is actually alive. But all hope is taken away when he’s given a choice….. him and his whole family dies unless he agrees to be a spy and join The Boys…. which should be easy because his brother is now one of the leaders of this group. Obviously not much of a choice there.

    This is where Abdi’s struggles really begin. He’s trying to find out where his brothers loyalties lie while also trying to find that brotherhood connection they had as children. But worst of all is that he’s forced to do things that he could never imagine. He’s forced to serve, train, kill, and torture. He’s turning into the person he’s feared his whole life, just to save his family.

    Then there’s also the relationships that he forms after he gains his freedom. He’s seen some awful things and has no clue who he can trust. Like I said, he’s a really great kid who is soft and kind hearted. He wants so badly to be able to trust and look forward to planning a future. I can’t explain just how much I loved the characters and their development in this book!

    I also need to mention that the pacing in this book was non stop. There was so much that happened that built up to a larger picture. I finished this book in 2 sittings because I was so immersed I lost all track of time. This wasn’t an easy read though. If you’re triggered by war, murder, rape, torture, and all thing in between, this might not be for you. But the message that this book conveys is well worth the discomfort.

    I honestly can’t recommend this book enough!!! It was SO good and SO well written! Thank you so much to Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to read and review this novel. This does not influence my opinion. All thoughts and opinions within this review are my own and uninfluenced.

  • Jesse bowtiesandbooks

    Abdi is 13 when his older brother is kidnapped at school by a terrorist organization. 3 years later, Abdi is kidnapped and tortured for 3 days in a cell by the CIA, who give Abdi a mission: infiltrate Al-Shaabab and gather information on his brother, who is very much alive and now a terrorist leader.

    If Abdi refuses, his entire family will be killed. He accepts the offer to go undercover as a soldier for Al-Shaabab, in hopes of rescuing his brother and securing passports for him and his

    Abdi is 13 when his older brother is kidnapped at school by a terrorist organization. 3 years later, Abdi is kidnapped and tortured for 3 days in a cell by the CIA, who give Abdi a mission: infiltrate Al-Shaabab and gather information on his brother, who is very much alive and now a terrorist leader.

    If Abdi refuses, his entire family will be killed. He accepts the offer to go undercover as a soldier for Al-Shaabab, in hopes of rescuing his brother and securing passports for him and his family to leave Somalia and start a new life: But at what cost?

    This book has the power to be as impactful as The Hate U Give. Critical elements such as suspense, pacing, plot, and character development were all 5 stars, despite occasional cliche dialogue. However, the story's true power lies in its meaningful themes:

    What are you willing to do to save your family? Would you kill? Would you sacrifice yourself?

    in Somali youth

    and redemption

    as a means of resistance and survival

    For all of these reasons, I fell in love with this book. Abdi is an incredible character and represents so many misunderstood boys worldwide. My favorite theme was how

    - when you live under an oppressive regime, joy is a revolutionary act.

    An important note: The author has spent 10 years working with the United Nations and with refugees, but

    (The only time I felt she was writing with bias was when she described the practice of wearing Hijab. I disliked that the book harshly represented the practice of wearing hijab; it failed to include important reasons why some muslim women do choose to wear it) I found this note to be incredibly self aware and transparent.

    I was highly anticipating this book, but completely unready for how incredibly it changed me.

    let the heavy subject matter deter you from reading this phenomenal piece of contemporary fiction -

    Content warning: kidnapping, sexual assault, brainwashing, terrorism

    Representations: Somali, PTSD, physical disabilities, muslim

  • Adah Udechukwu

    Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday was nice. I'm glad Abdi and Dahir didn't die at the end. I'm glad none of them died.

    All the good guys made it. Abdi, Dahir, Sam, Muna, Bashir and Safiya all survived.

  • Seroxx83

    Oooh,hard one to rate! I liked it,I think it’s realistic in so many ways, but I doubt there are many «happy endings» in real life... i know it’s not a nonfiction or memoir, but a YA , but still the ending was a bit «easy»

  • Bang Bang Books

    I really liked City of Saints and Thieves and I wanted to like this too but...

    If you follow my reviews, you'll know that I don't enjoy on-the-nose style of writing. That means I don't like the type of writing where the reader isn't allowed to think-it's all black and white. Where everything is laid out for you. I like books that challenge the reader through metaphorical language or symbolism. Some of my favorite books are by Maggie Stiefvater and John Green because colors or nature or animals sy

    I really liked City of Saints and Thieves and I wanted to like this too but...

    If you follow my reviews, you'll know that I don't enjoy on-the-nose style of writing. That means I don't like the type of writing where the reader isn't allowed to think-it's all black and white. Where everything is laid out for you. I like books that challenge the reader through metaphorical language or symbolism. Some of my favorite books are by Maggie Stiefvater and John Green because colors or nature or animals symbolize something and it's up to the reader to figure it out. One of my favorite lines from We Were Liars by E. Lockhart was I don't suffer fools-you can discuss that quote for hours. Lockhart doesn't tell you why the book is titled, We Were Liars, you have to figure it out through her story. I like a lot of gray. This is one of the main reasons why I didn't like this book but it doesn't necessarily means the book is bad; it's just not what I like.

    The pacing was my second reason. It is TOO DAMN LONG! 433 pages to be exact. I liked the non-linear plot but the MC, Adbi, just repeated his feelings which leads me to my biggest issue.

    This story is about Abdi and how he was tasked with being a spy in the Al Shabab terrorist group. That right there is a nuanced setting and plot because this is not the traditional story we get in YA fiction. And this is probably why you are going to read this book. However, the way the book is written, we don't really get to experience what it is like to be in a terrorist group. Abdi could have been an abused teen in Texas or a homeless teen in Florida or a Wisconsin teen who's town was just invaded by a UFO. My point is, Adbi's experience inside the terrorist group and the way he dealt with the aftermath was not unique. His situation was nuanced but the way he dealt with it could have been from any of the various contemporary YA fiction books we've all read and that's a missed opportunity.

    As I stated above, the plot is non-linear so it jumps from before he was in Al Shabab to while he was in Al Shabab to after his escape. During the after-his-escape chapters, he just displays normal symptoms of paranoia-nothing unique to his Al Shabab situation. When he's inside it, he's worried for his family, one again nothing special to see here. The only interesting moments was when the Butcher spoke. He was basically the brain washer and it was interesting listening to his speeches about how Al Shabab was God's will and they were all doing God's work. This is what suicide bombers are told so as a reader who has never experienced any of this, it was interesting to see how someone is brainwashed to kill innocents and take their own life in the process. But that was a minor portion of this story.

    99% of this book is told in 1st person from Abdi's POV but one time it switches to 3rd POV from a character who is punished then one time to a different 3rd POV from a random character. It seemed like Anderson didn't know how to tell her story without these random POV switches and that was not okay. Either write it all in 3rd person or switch POV's through out. The character who was being punished was meant to be a shocking chapter into the mind of a person who is being whipped but this story is not about that character. It should have been from the POV of Abdi and how seeing this affected him. Or, Anderson could have made a connection to another character in Abdi's after-the-escape chapters.

    Finally, that ending was way over the top. For the first half of the book, I kept picturing Abdi as a 13 year old because he was written as an immature meek boy but he's 16 and has seen and done horrible things. In the last couple of chapters, he's suddenly this confident teen who takes down the leader? I know this part of the story was meant for entertainment value but it was just way too over the top to take it remotely seriously.

    Overall, the title is GREAT and the cover is GREAT and the setting is GREAT but the execution was disappointing. There was some potential for some dynamic characters in Bashir, a fellow boy soldier, and Musa, a 16-year- old pregnant girl who was a wife of one of the leaders. Even Abdi's brother could have been great. They had tragic backstories but they ultimately fell flat. Unfortunate.

  • Cathy

    The cover is eye-catching and the title is intriguing. Although this is a work of fiction, I hope this will be a ladder to some memoirs like A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. A book is only as good as the next book that it leads a reader to. That is the only way we can help young readers become lifelong readers.

  • Alicia

    My feelings-- hmm. It's a tough one because the topic is on point and it's both representative of a global issue, the battles of religion and politics, wars in which children are used and abused among horrific violence and destruction with glimmers of hope.

    But clocking in at 500 pages, the non-linear storytelling that tries to quicken the pace just couldn't with such a heft to the story. It's a journey. It's about relationships. I get all of that but the students that would benefit the most fro

    My feelings-- hmm. It's a tough one because the topic is on point and it's both representative of a global issue, the battles of religion and politics, wars in which children are used and abused among horrific violence and destruction with glimmers of hope.

    But clocking in at 500 pages, the non-linear storytelling that tries to quicken the pace just couldn't with such a heft to the story. It's a journey. It's about relationships. I get all of that but the students that would benefit the most from this story either as a mirror, window, or sliding glass door might not engage simply based on it's thickness. I hate to be the bearer of that bad news and even I finally stopped investing because there was just so much story.

    I was also disappointed to find out that the author, while addressing the issue does absolutely help the case, never traveled to the area (but obviously did extensive research) and as she states, is not from the culture, region, nor same race. Especially with so many biographies and autobiographies from those that have survived and persevered, I'd rather share that with a student that this fictionalized one.

    The cover art and title are catchy enough though.

  • Angela

    The cover art alone... 💕👌🏾

    I need this book

  • Warda

    Not many books that I know off that are set in my motherland.

    I am intrigued by this.

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