The First Rule of Swimming: Book summary and reviews of The First Rule of Swimming by Courtney Angela Brkic

The First Rule of Swimming

By Courtney Angela Brkic

The First Rule of Swimming
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  • Published in USA  May 2013,
    336 pages.

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Book Summary

Magdalena does not panic when she learns that her younger sister has disappeared. A free-spirit, Jadranka has always been prone to mysterious absences. But when weeks pass with no word, Magdalena leaves the isolated Croatian island where their family has always lived and sets off to New York to find her sister. Her search begins to unspool the dark history of their family, reaching back three generations to a country torn by war.

A haunting and sure-footed debut by an award-winning writer, The First Rule of Swimming explores the legacy of betrayal and loss in a place where beauty is fused inextricably with hardship, and where individuals are forced to make wrenching choices as they are swept up in the tides of history.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. In her exquisitely crafted, superbly structured novel, Brkic summons undertones of Greek tragedy to create her arresting characters and their intense emotions and dire secrets. By dramatizing nuanced questions of who is at fault, who can be trusted, and who will sink or swim, Brkic reveals persistent, multigenerational wounds of war, sacrifice, exile, and longing and imagines how healing might commence." - Booklist

"A sensitive tale of deep emotional force." - Kirkus

"This compact, beautiful novel of two island sisters deftly explores what it is to love a place, a person, and the lengths to which one will go to defend them. Brkic is adept at depicting both the timeless paradise of the island, Rosmarina, and the way its brutal history has scarred a family for generations." - Janet Fitch, author of Paint It Black and White Oleander

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Courtney Angela Brkic is the author of The First Rule of Swimming , Stillness: and Other Stories and The Stone Fields. Her work has also appeared in Zoetrope, The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Harpers & Queen, the Utne Reader, TriQuarterly Review, The Alaska Review and National Geographic, among others. Brkic has been the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Whiting Writer's Award. Stillness was named a Barnes and Noble Discover pick, a 2003 Chicago Tribune "Best Book" and a 2003 New York Times "Notable Book". The Stone Fields was shortlisted for a Freedom of Expression Award by the Index on Censorship. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband and son, and teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University.

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