Alexandria, VA – Review: One Last Swim
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing
Author: R.L. Monsheimer
Reviewed by: Ralph Peluso, Literary Editor
Zebra Rating–5 Stripes
Authors generally draw from life experiences, especially in their early works. Monsheimer does so in a unique way in his first novel, One Last Swim. “My inspiration to write this book came from something that was on my mind for nearly a decade—a novel involving an underachiever where the whole team experience was on his shoulders. I personally went through this twice in my lifetime, once as a teen in Baltimore, and the other as a senior tennis player,” Monsheimer said in a recent interview.
Narrated almost entirely through the eyes of John Peters, a somewhat unlucky and underwhelming swimmer, this is a fast-moving homage to his life. Growing up in the shadows of Baltimore, nothing came easy for him. His parents, Mark and Sharon, met while attending college.
One parent was Roman Catholic and the other Jewish, which perhaps set the stage for Peters’ relentless battles against long odds. Monsheimer cleverly uses competitive swimming as a backdrop for taking readers through the Peters’ trials and tribulations. From the time he was six and first entered the world of swimming, he came face to face with the realities of life: the joy of winning and the disappointments when things do not go the way you wish, balancing priorities, and making tough choices. Peters discovers as you get older, challenges increase, are more intense, and managing primacies is tougher.
One Last Swim is a smartly written blend of a personal memoir and a coming-of-age story. Monsheimer added, “I draw inspiration from writers I admired, like John Feinstein, a master swimmer and a great sports writer. And authors who string the main character across unique stories like Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt.”
In the end, this young man’s saga is cut short by an unseen tragedy. But the story within makes this a terrific read. John Peters dreamt big. He imagined that he’d be standing on an Olympic podium someday. He faced long and persistent obstacles: antisemitism, a critical doubting father, injuries, bullying, and a nasty collegiate coach. Through it all, he had support from a loving sister, childhood friends, and the love of his life, Julia.
Peters struggled daily with this dilemma: give up your dreams or keep going. John Peters made his choice. He thought, do not let loudly voiced opinions dissuade you! From the time they met and through to the end, Julia was his rock. She fortified his spirit.
For Peters, family reconciliations are perhaps the most difficult to resolve. Peters mused after a reconciliation with his dad, “Can you ever really put the hurt of wasted time behind you?”
R.L. Monsheimer is a native of Silver Spring, MD. He is an MBPA (Fairmont State University) and a CPA. He was a swimmer in college and named an academic athlete. R.L. is a three-times entrant in Who’s Who in the Telecommunications World. He is a professional and personal development coach and, in recent years, started coaching individuals in self-expression and leadership.
As an adult, Monsheimer successfully competed in two sports, swimming (Masters Nationals) and team tennis national championships. He has advocated for those with special needs in Montgomery County and served as the vice president of the Taxpayer’s League. R.L. is writing a second novel about a multi-racial female tennis player with ambitions to win the mixed doubles at the U.S. Open.
One Last Swim is an entertaining novel for the fan of almost any genre. Monsheimer’s work is part Love Story, with a twist of Romeo and Juliet , a pinch of The Fault of Our Stars, and a bit of Brian’s Song. Zebra rating: 5 Stripes.
A Message from Ralph Peluso
Local Mystery and Suspense Writers Book Signing Event
Join me on Sunday, October 15, from 11 am to 2 pm, at Barnes & Noble Potomac Yard for a book signing for Back Stories, my new psychological thriller. This will be part of an exciting weekend of book signings for local mystery and suspense writers. On Saturday, October 14, Sunny Hudson, author of The Murder Game, will appear with Daniel Meier, writer of Guidance to Death. On Sunday, I’ll be joined by John Adam Wasowicz, author of the Old Town mystery series, who’ll sign his latest book, Hazel Falls. Come to Barnes & Noble, support your local writers, and get a good book signed by the author. See you there!