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Publisher's Summary

“A book that is at once riveting and relevant as it unpeels the various meanings of motherhood, family, and loyalty. I tore through it.” (Miranda Cowley Heller, author of The Paper Palace) 

The bonds between three picture-perfect - but viciously protective - mothers and their close-knit sons are tested during one unforgettable summer in a gripping novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Jetsetters.

Austin’s Zilker Park neighborhood is a wonderland of greenbelt trails, live music, and moms who drink a few too many margaritas. Whitney, Annette, and Liza have grown thick as thieves as they have raised their children together for 15 years, believing that they can shelter them their children from an increasingly dangerous world. Their friendship is unbreakable - as safe as the neighborhood where they've raised their sweet little boys. 

Or so they think.

One night, the three women have been enjoying happy hour when their boys, lifeguards for the summer, come back on bicycles from a late-night dip in their favorite swimming hole. The boys share a secret - news that will shatter the perfect world their mothers have so painstakingly created. 

Combining three mothers’ points of view in a powerful narrative tale with commentary from entertaining neighborhood listservs, secret text messages, and police reports, The Lifeguards is both a story about the secrets we tell to protect the ones we love and a riveting novel of suspense filled with half-truths and betrayals, fierce love and complicated friendships, and the loss of innocence on one hot summer night.

©2022 Amanda Eyre Ward (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Once again, Amanda Eyre Ward has written a book that is at once riveting and relevant as it unpeels the various meanings of motherhood, family, and loyalty. I tore through it.” (Miranda Cowley Heller, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Paper Palace)

“At once a love letter to my favorite city and a tense interrogation of the bonds of motherhood, The Lifeguards places three very different women in the pressure cooker of one Austin summer and watches the sparks ignite. I love a carefully crafted mystery where all the tricky pieces fit just so.... A masterclass.” (Chandler Baker, New York Times best-selling author of The Husbands)

The Lifeguards combines dark intrigue with complex family dynamics and witty social observation. It’s a highly charged, compelling page-turner that kept me guessing till the end. Sun, secrets, tequila, and twists - what’s not to like?!” (Sophie Kinsella, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Party Crasher)

What listeners say about The Lifeguards

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So many politics, such little content

On a positive note, there is a good chance that you either are, or know someone who is, very similar to one of the relatable main characters. The overall plot was creative & narration was fantastic, however, I feel like more thought and effort was put into political and social statements than the actual story & tying up of lose ends.

This really could have been SO GOOD. And the racial context COULD HAVE been extremely enlightening. But instead, we get to hear 10 hours of self-righteous, “rich white people” profiling, among other politically charged innuendos and statements. I still have so many questions about the story, but no doubt on where the author stands politically and socially.

I wonder if it’s ever occurred to anyone that we are creating self-fulfilling prophecies. The more we tell minority and socioeconomic groups that they are ostracized and alienated, the more they are going into group settings automatically feeling that way, rejecting and pushing people without giving them a chance.

I was at a retreat in Costa Rica last month and didn’t know anyone there… There was a Hispanic woman from my state that I really wanted to talk to, but she put off a very guarded energy and attitude. When I finally got brave enough to approach her, we immediately connected. At some point during the week, she admitted that she has issues with people with “lighter skin than her” because of childhood experiences at a primarily white school, and a belief that white people automatically think they’re better. What’s sad about this is that today is not the same as it was 30 years ago. I understand that those experiences shape you and the way you see the world, but we are just drilling in the message, continuing the cycle.

It’s the same with someone who has less money or grew up poor. I grew up in a small town full of big names with little money and from a dysfunctional home, and I spent my first 30 years of life believing that everyone around me who had more money thought they were better than me. My mom would tell me that all the time. And of course there are people that did & do, but the more I went out into the world believing this, the more people I pushed away. There has to be a better way to inform and persuade continual progress toward social equality than this polarization and pitting one race against another.

11 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Amazing

I strongly disagree with the other review about this being political. This has absolutely nothing to do with politics and what is briefly mentioned is used to help paint a picture of the characters. This story was outstanding, the character development spot on and the ending tied things up nicely. Don't skip this one!!!

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Not what I expected

Don’t waste your credit…painful to get through . Perhaps the shallowest book I’ve ever listened to…

2 people found this helpful

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What would you do?

Wow! “The Lifeguards” by Amanda Eyre Ward is a story about motherhood and loyalty, and an event that tests the bonds of friendships.

The story is told by three mothers of fifteen-year-old lifeguards, with chapters peppered with the voices of: their teen sons, a recently widowed detective, and the chorus of the “Barton Hills Mamas”, an Austin TX group chat. Barton Hills is an affluent suburb of Austin TX. It’s the summer of 2019 when a college-aged female is found dead near the swimming hole where the boys (lifeguards) work. Through unexpected circumstances, the boys are linked to the death, and these mama-bears lawyer-up. Prior to this summer, the women have enjoyed a tight relationship, to the point that the boys feel that this friendship supersedes everything, including them. Once the boys are under scrutiny, the mothers become fearful for their own boy.

Meanwhile the widowed detective trudges through his new lot of single parenthood. He follows the clues, under pressure to find the reason the girl died.

While I really enjoyed the story, I think Ward tried to cover too many issues: immigration, infertility, alcoholism, trauma, loneliness, estrangement, single-parenting, and queer identity. What I did like was the realistic portrayal of the three mothers. These mothers are recognizable; we’ve all encountered them.

Ward exposes what being a “good” mother means. Given our world with increasingly younger violent offenders, especially regarding gun violence, how do we “protect” our child if they are arrested? Is protecting a child not making that child have meaningful consequences for violent actions? When a mother has a nagging feeling that their child is troubled, is cloaking them being a good mother?

How far would you go if you thought your child could be involved in a crime??

I listened to the audio narrated by Hillary Huber, the amazing Marin Ireland, Kirby Heyborne, and Karissa Vacker. Any project that Ireland works, I know I’ll enjoy!

1 person found this helpful

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Awful ending!

Enjoyed this book, didn’t love the ending! I needed more closure than what was told!

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One of the best books in five years!

I LOVED this story! It builds slowly toward an immensely intricate and surprising ending. Truly well-written an read by multiple narrators! I want more Amanda Eyre Ward!

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Much Ado About Nothing

4 narrators and three lifeguards can’t compensate for the lack of a decent plot or three dimensional characters.

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Narrator blues

I always like Marin Ireland. Unfortunately, she's not the lead narrator who in the future I'll stay away from. The story & writing doesn't hold up to a narrator who grates.

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I enjoyed this!

I enjoyed the story but one of the narrators sounds like a robot. Her voice was annoying to listen to. The others were good.

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