"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."
For some reason, I just couldn't emotionally attach myself to this story. Don't get me wrong; I feel that the plot and the characters were well written. The themes of family ties, immigration, and dealing with horrors past really hit home. I loved the setting, a tucked away island in Croatia with an everyone-knows-everyone-else population. BUT. I think my issue with this book was that there were so many different storylines and memories all included in one book...just when I thought I was getting to really know one of the characters, the storyline would switch to another POV (and maybe another era!) and I'd have to refocus myself and try to remember what had been happening to so-and-so during their previous chapter. The timing of the book was all over the place... sometimes two consecutive chapters were happening at the same time, sometimes they'd have weeks or more of time difference between them. Basically, I spent a lot of reading time feeling confused. I think that readers will either enjoy the complexity of the novel, or get tired of trying to connect the dots.
Lia's Overall Rating: Okay Read