“Florence Adler Swims Forever” by Rachel Beanland

Remember what I was saying about fun summer reads? Yeah, this one is not as fun as it was billed to be. Am I the only one who thinks beach reads should be light? Anyway, for all that, this was a really good book.

Told from 6 perspectives ranging from a little girl to her grandfather, this story is one of family and the Jewish mourning process. Upon a deadly beach accident, an epic unfolds as the family comes together to grieve as well as shield their other daughter from anything that may upset her enough to experience additional heartbreak. And if you think the story is unrealistic, you may be surprised to learn that this book was based on true stories from the author’s own family.

Aside from telling a cohesive story through several characters, something that I think this book did really well was walk the reader through the Jewish burial and grieving process. As someone who has only attended one shiva, I found myself being educated without really knowing it until I was reflecting on the book later. Layered upon reading each character’s personal grieving process and it was very powerful storytelling indeed.

While it’s certainly not the book I thought it was going to be (which I’m not even sure how I missed that in reading the overview) I’m certainly glad I picked it up. Maybe the beach or the pool is not a great place for reading it since you’ll need tissues, I do think it’s worthy of adding to your summer reading list.

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