Book Review: To Swim Beneath the Earth by Ginger Bensman


Title: To Swim Beneath the Earth

Author: Ginger Bensman

Published: 2015

Pages: 342

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Print copy mailed by author

My rating: 3.5/5


MEGAN KIMSEY, born and raised in a small Colorado town on the edge of the La Plata Mountains, grows up haunted by images. Straddling cryptic glimpses of events that foretell her own future, and events remembered from a past in the highlands of Ecuador and Peru more than 400 years before she was born, she must challenge her Catholic upbringing and the stigma of a mental breakdown following a childhood tragedy, before she can strike out on a quest for meaning. Megan’s journey leads her to South America and an expedition among the remnants of the Inca Empire, and finally, to a wind-swept outcropping high atop Cotopaxi Mountain in search of the frozen child she sees in her dreams.


Definitely a different approach than what I was anticipating. I appreciated the historical context and an anthropological story-line blended with that of loss, purpose, and love. The narrative begins with an insight of who Megan Kimsey is and the strong connection she has with her father as well as the visions she has of the ancient Inca Empire. The relationship painted for father and daughter was heart-wrenching to see along with Megan’s hurting after his unfortunate demise. However, the path she takes to find herself and seek out her father’s last birthday gift to her is something I can relate to. The journeys we take to rediscover what we have lost is life-changing as we see for Megan. Her willingness to embrace the visions (both past and future) and let those guide her direction allows her to find herself and love along the way. I felt that the ending seemed rushed, and that the majority of the novel was set in South America. I would’ve loved more of Megan’s relationship with Charlie (her brother) and her mom besides the letter sent amidst her travels. That family dynamic was crucial to her development as was her father’s role – after that loss, I wanted to see more of how the family would move forward – it was left unsettled. As for the historical context, I personally have not researched and immersed myself in the ancient history of the Inca besides a one-semester course for Art History course back in college. It was refreshing to gain that perspective and learn of a different culture. At times, challenging to follow along but once committed, I saw the value of this work as one that explores ones past, present, and future and how it coincides family and loved ones and how they intertwine seamlessly.

Read To Swim Beneath the Earth if you like the themes of:

  • Seeking meaning
  • South America
  • History
  • Visions

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