Swim a Crooked Line
by Al X. Griz
Cray Cray Bird Publishing

"After much experimentation the handicapped man had perfected a strange looking one-armed crawl motion... John always swam crooked lines."

A Nebraskan farm family and their favorite football team, the Cornhuskers, share center stage in Swim a Crooked Line. John Jenkins, hardworking in spite of losing an arm to farm machinery, is the family patriarch who inherited the land. He and Swedish wife, Barbara, have two sons and a daughter. Chad, the oldest, joined the service after a squabble with his father. With war in the middle east, Barbara resorts to alcohol to calm her fears. With daughter, Dee D., leaving to attend college a four-hour drive away, only young Jerry remains at home.

Ricardo Ramirez was born to play football, but sat out his first season on the Cornhuskers’ bench. This semester, he strategizes with his father and the coach to return as line backer—the position played in LA high school when he earned the moniker "Rico Ram." When Rico meets the blonde Dee D. in class, it is instant attraction. But circumstances conspire against them before feelings become commitment. A deadly, freak accident, with communication limited to long-distance phone calls and text messages, drives them apart. They each have personal loss to deal with alone. And when corporate and local farming practices wreak havoc on the farm, only $50,000 can keep the family from losing the land… until love becomes forever.

Griz has successfully developed a mixing pot of characters—football hero to farm hands, cheerleaders to store clerks, coaches to patriarchs, and sergeants to snipers. Events happening in 2007 and issues discussed on nightly news broadcasts provide dramatic backdrops for this 600-page saga. The velocity with which drama storms into the characters’ lives may seem overwhelming. Although the author works out these dilemmas in the end, a Michener-style approach of spacing tragedies over a longer time frame might improve the reading pleasure.

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