Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
When free spirit Jadranka mysteriously disappears shortly after emigrating to America, her older sister Magdalena must leave their ancestral Croatian island home and follow her to New York City. Magdalena's search begins to unspool the dark history of their family, reaching back three generations to a country torn by war.
This haunting and sure-footed first novel explores the legacy of betrayal and loss in a place where beauty is fused with hardship, and where individuals are forced to make wrenching choices as they are swept up in the tides of history.
Courtney Angela Brkic has created a beautiful literary gem to behold set against the background of the small Croatian island of Rosmarina; a character within itself with its weathered buildings, olive groves, salt air and the innate ability to capture the heart and soul of its inhabitants. Through the years, the tiny island home has seen its fair share of war and political upheaval, causing some to flee while others stand firmer and cling to their island heritage. Spanning three generations, The First Rule Of Swimming, explores this island heritage as well as the love and devotion between siblings, and the lengths each would go to in order to protect the other. The story itself is beautifully told from the perspective of various family members and travels back in time with each member providing one more piece to the puzzle. Ultimately, this is a story of love and forgiveness, and reconciling the past that is simultaneously beautiful and heart-breaking. With this debut novel, Brkic has proven herself to be a very unique and refreshing literary voice. The First Rule Of Swimming would be an excellent book club choice and a perfect choice for summer reading as well. I would highly recommend this book and easily give this a FIVE!