All of them are in love with the dashing Miss G, their swim instructor, and a "crack," as it turns out, is a crush--the embodiment of all of adolescence's formless yearnings: When you had a crack you saw things more clearly: the thick dark of the shadows and the transparence of the oak leaves in the light and the soft glow of the pink magnolia petals against their waxy leaves. You wanted to lie down alone in the dark in the music room and listen to Rachmaninoff and to the summer rains rushing hard down the gutters. You left notes for your crack in her mug next to her toothbrush on the shelf in the bathroom. If you accidentally brushed up against your crack and felt her boosie, you nearly fainted.
When they're not swimming, the members of the team amuse themselves by torturing new girls and taking turns fainting in chapel, until Fiamma Coronna throws everything off balance. A breathtaking Italian princess, a first-class swimmer, Fiamma quickly earns the girls' enmity by becoming Miss G's favorite. Worse still, she shows no interest in her teammates at all, and the usual hazing soon escalates to something far more serious.
Heat dust, frangipani, adolescent sexuality simmering just under the surface: this could all have gone terribly, terribly wrong. It doesn't, and Kohler's elegant prose is the main reason why. The girls may be overheated, but the author's language never is. --Chloe Byrne