Monday, November 18, 2013

The First Rule of Swimming by Courtney Angela Brkic

Title: The First Rule of Swimming
Author: Courtney Angela Brkic
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Length: 336 pages

The First Rule of Swimming follows several members of a Croatian family across the world. Jadranka has disappeared after moving to America, and her sister Magdalena starts to worry. Finally, Magdalena leaves her island home and sets off for New York to track down her sister.

I really wish I'd known more (read: anything) about Croatian history before reading this book. I learned some along the way, from the story itself and from looking things up on Wikipedia when I was confused, but I feel like a more in-depth knowledge would have added a lot to my experience.

This is a rich story in so many ways. The various family members and their relationships are so complex, from the deep connection but huge differences between Magdalena and Jadranka, to their American cousin Caterina's spoiled life and jealousy of Jadranka's art. I would have liked to see more from Jadranka's point of view, since mostly all we see from her perspective is the part where she makes really terrible decisions, making me shake my head at her in disbelief. I feel like at other parts in the story she would have been a really interesting mind to be inside. But at the same time, seeing her through her very different sister's eyes also creates an interesting dynamic.

4 stars.

Full disclosure: Free ebook copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.

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