Back in May, I read Swimming for Sunlight, by Allie Larkin. I loved it. And we already had her scheduled to come to the RBC in November. So why haven't I written a review, you ask? For the same reason I haven't written dozens of others!...I don't know. But it is what it is, as they say. In any case, and even though I included it in my list of 22 books that I recommend you all read, I want to take a couple of minutes to give it its own post. Here's the storyline:
Katie Ellis gave up everything in her divorce to gain custody of her fearful, faithful rescue dog, Bark. Anxious about her next steps, she returns to her hometown in Florida to live with her grandmother Nan.
In her youth, Nan was a mermaid performer in a roadside attraction show, swimming and dancing underwater with a close-knit cast of talented women. Most of the mermaids have since lost touch, but Katie helps Nan search for her old friends online, sparking hopes for a reunion show and reigniting Katie's crippling fear of water. Katie offers to design their costumes. As the show takes shape, she struggles to balance her hopes with her anxiety, and begins to realize just how much Bark's fears are connected to her own in this charming novel about hope after loss and friendships that span generations.
Allie combines humor with many poignant moments (aka I cried a lot!). Plus her writing is excellent. At one point, Katie's grandma wants Katie to sit with grandma's friends. Here is Katie's reaction:
"Sitting by the pool to chat with the ladies would be like squeezing a lemon with a hand covered in paper cuts." That doesn't leave much to the imagination, does it?
A couple of things stick out for me in this book:
1. I loved all of the characters. That doesn't happen too often.
2. In most books, my biggest flowing moments are toward the end. In SfS, it happened throughout (although I actually sobbed 38 pages from the end).
And, finally, every once in a while a get a takeaway from a book. It's pretty rare, but when it does happen, it leaves me with something that I actually try to incorporate into my life. In this case, it's this: "I was going to be the person who showed up for her because friendship is a love story too." For me, this is right on.
So, despite the fact that a dog is a central character in Swimming for Sunlight (you all know that I tend to stay away from animal-centric books, although I did like The Art of Racing in the Rain), I highly recommend this book. And out of 11 people who read it and came to the RBC meeting, the lowest rating was a 3.75/4! Are you kidding me? That's unheard of. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up.