Verdict: As an original story concept, Swallow doesn't break new ground, but there are many authentic moments and it was easy to read and finish.
At 26, fresh out of Yale Law School, Sophie Hegel lands not only a job at the NYC Public Defender’s Office, but a “catch” of a fiancé: handsome, wealthy, ivy-educated Stephen Walsh. But in Tonya Plank’s well-paced, semi-autobiographical first novel, Swallow, Sophie’s journey of self-discovery threatens to destroy her perfectly mapped-out life as a sophisticated and successful New York attorney.
A psychological condition called a “globus sensate” — an imaginary blockage in the throat — is spontaneously born the moment “perfect” Stephen proposes to her. Eating and drinking become a nightmare as Sophie endures embarrassing court incidents, fainting spells and awkward intimate moments.
Forced to confront her demons, past and present, and figure out why this is happening to her, Sophie comes to the conclusion that she should stop letting everyone push her around.
As an original story concept, Swallow doesn’t break new ground, but there are authentic moments at the Public Defender’s Office as Sophie fights for “the people society turns its back on.” Overall, I found it easy to read and finish this book, and I wanted to see what would happen in the end.
Review by Linda Federico-Omurchu