Swing Time

Books on Tape. Nov. 2016. 16 hrs. ISBN 9780735205635. $45. F
Smith deftly examines class, race, wealth, activism, and tribalism through the story of two girls’ lifelong friendship. Both are mixed-race, growing up in an impoverished London neighborhood. Drawn together by their love of dance and old musicals, they construct a relationship that is loving but competitive. Their home lives could not be more different. Our unnamed narrator’s Jamaican mother is a socially aware feminist who pushes her daughter to be more and do more. Their relationship is complex, and the daughter is drawn to her mostly absent but less judgmental father. Tracey, on the other hand, lives with her flawed but supportive mother. As the girls mature, their paths diverge. Tracey begins a promising career in theater, while our narrator attends university. Her mother finishes her own university career, divorces her husband, enters politics, and advocates for her neighbors. Meanwhile, our narrator has graduated, but Tracey never manages to escape the neighborhood. Using satire, wit, and vivid description, Smith draws listeners into this thought-provoking story. It is a book that will stay with you.
VERDICT Actress Pippa Bennett-Warner expertly captures the voice of the two girls as well as the dialect and intonation of a multitude of secondary characters in this global story. Highly recommended. [“A rich and sensitive drama…for all readers”: LJ 9/15/16 starred review of the Penguin hc.]
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing