GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS by Eva Clark, Created by Kobe Bryant

There have been SO MANY amazing books coming out this summer that it has been hard to keep track of them all, especially since the pandemic makes it much harder for leisurely strolls at the bookstore to check out new releases..

Today, I want to spotlight GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS by Eva Clark and Kobe Bryant. It is the first YA novel from Granity Studios and centered around swimming. This is the fourth wave to release from Bryant's new publishing company Granity Studios, though the first stand-alone. The other four books published so far are middle-grade titles that break down into three series. 

Granity Studios will continue publishing books that focus on sports and motivate more children to discover the love of reading. All of the books are SO gorgeous in person, from velvety covers to stained pages to color artwork and more!

Just look at how beautiful these books are when all lined up together:

Courtesy of Granity Studios

And of course, you know how much I love to look at book spines all together in a gorgeous stack, so:

Courtesy of Granity Studios

And a closer look at our newest beauty, GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS:

Courtesy of Granity Studios

Unlike the previous middle-grade series, Wizenard, Legacy, and Epoca, which combine sports and fantasy, GANS is a hard-hitting YA novel that deals with serious issues. One of the reasons I love the middle-grade books is because I love the idea behind this series and this world so much. There aren't enough novels centered around sports -- and especially not in fantasy! I love that Bryant is breaking new ground and giving kids, teens, and even adults something so new and different. Plus, each series centers around a different sport and they're never a regurgitation of the same thing all over again. Bryant has also worked with authors who know the sport being written about, giving the books fuller, more realistic stories that also embrace the overarching idea in his head.

I already love the fact that the novels will also introduce hard-hitting issues to teens they may not otherwise see in a novel. I'm always applauding fantasy when they deal with "real-world" issues we tend to only see in contemporary novels such as eating disorders, depression, etc. Some teens aren't huge readers of contemporary novels, and so they miss these books and their important messages. The same is true with sports novels. Earlier this year, I applauded BREAK THE FALL by Jennifer Iacopelli for exploring the rampant abuse in gymnastics right before Olympic Trials and WE ARE THE WILDCATS by Siobhan Vivian for its exploration of toxic coaches. Now, with GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS, readers are introduced to the topics of suicide as well as the aftermath of bullying. It also showcases the pressure in sports, as well as the way they can heal you after trauma.

The press release states that GANS was created, "With a strong level of detail and care that has gone into the bigger message of the book, GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS features partnerships with various artists and organizations in the mental health community, including student-athlete resources provided by The Hidden Opponent and The Michael Phelps Foundation."

The novel revolves around Gus, who is a swimmer with his eyes on the Olympics, just like his older brother Danny. When Danny fails to make the national swimming team, he can't deal and takes his own life. Now, Danny is dealing with the fallout of his brother's death. For one thing, to make his dream come true, he needs to be coached by the man who coached his brother, which is easier said than done. For another, his brother was a bully, and how do you rectify your feelings for the dead when they're so complex? (This is a dynamic that was also recently explored in Tony Award Winning Musical Dear Evan Hansen, which was turned into a YA novel by Val Emmich.

GANS will feature original artwork that the press release states was, "commissioned by Granity Studios for the novel. In partnership with Yosi Sargent at TaskForce, Granity identified and worked with the following artists to help bring Gus’ story to life: collage artist Bedelgeues, painter Deedee Cheriel, abstractionist Adam Enrique Rodriguez, and graffiti artist Augustine Kofie."

Here is some of the artwork that can be found inside GANS:

All artwork courtesy of Granity Studios

I'm really intrigued by the plotline of this one, and love that it will reach so many new minds. It is a book that will reach both athletes and non-athletes. It has that universal crossover appeal of being gripping for contemporary readers while also appealing to sports enthusiasts. Then, you have people like me, who haven't always been huge readers of books featuring sports unless the sport interests us. I grew up loving middle-grade novels about horseback riding, ice skating, gymnastics, and swimming. I also love reading Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series because we need more books starring female athletes. And okay, I still love books featuring horses and ice skaters and gymnasts and swimmers, not gonna lie. So that alone makes me want to pick this one up, because swimming.

Today, I also have an interview to share with you where Kobe Bryant was interviewed by Victoria Garrick, a D1 athlete and PAC-12 Champion (USC) on mental health. 

Kobe Bryant with Victoria Garrick,
Courtesy of USC/Victoria Garrick and Granity Studios

"Victoria Garrick and Kobe Bryant’s friendship came about due to a mutual passion for mental health advocacy and Kobe’s respect of her work at such a young age. Kobe included her organization, The Hidden Opponent, as a resource in the book because it serves to raise awareness for student-athlete mental health. Victoria began to combat depression and body image issues during her time at USC, later went on to give a TED Talk about her experiences, then launched the organization."

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS just came out on July 21st and is available now at bookstores everywhere in the YA Department. Don't forget to swing into the Children's Department to also take a peek at all the middle-grade series on offer from Granity Studios, from basketball to volleyball to track and field!

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Kobe Bryant & Eva Clark
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Granity Studios

Gus's life is about one thing-- swimming. He is determined to make it to the Olympics and he knows that the only coach in town who can get him there is Coach Marks. So it seems like a simple plan: convince Coach Marks to train him. Everything from there on in is just hard work and Gus has never been afraid of hard work.

But there are a few complications. For one thing, Coach Marks was Danny's coach. Danny, Gus's older brother, committed suicide after failing to make the national swimming team, a big step on the way to the Olympics. And for another thing, Gus and Danny didn't exactly get along when Danny was alive. Gus never liked living in Danny's shadow, and that shadow has grown even longer since Danny's death.

In this powerful novel about the punishing and the healing nature of sports, Gus's rage threatens to swallow him at every turn. He's angry at his brother, his mother, his coach . . . even himself. But as he works through his feelings and toward his goal, Gus does everything he can to channel his anger into excelling at the sport that he and Danny both loved, finding solace in the same place he must face his demons: the water.