“Maybe she was to be found in the people who loved her the most.”
Thank you Simon and Schuster for gifting me a copy of FLORENCE ADLER SWIM FOREVER by Rachel Beanland.
“Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.
Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.
Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.”
There’s no getting around this one. This book hit me right in the heart. It was a beautiful story written about the many ways that people handle their grief. Especially when their grief is brought on by the sudden and tragic death of someone so young and so full of life with a bright beautiful future ahead of them.
Maybe it’s just that I read this during this particular time of year but I fully appreciated every part of this book. I felt like I was standing next to Esther when she woke up in the mornings and hadn’t remembered yet that her youngest daughter was gone because, in those moments, life seemed as if nothing had changed. I watched as Joseph mourned the death of his daughter that he taught and encouraged to swim all those years ago. I held Gussie’s hand as she struggled to understand how her Aunt could be there one second and gone the next, seemingly taking all the joy in the world with her. I felt such sincere sadness for Fannie as she grew angry with her sister for not coming to visit her as she prepared to bring a baby into the world. My heart broke for Stuart as he came to terms with Florence’s death and how the future that the could’ve shared was no longer a possibility. And finally, I felt so deeply for Anna because she didn’t have the opportunity to spend much time with Florence but her sadness over her death was just as real as everyone else’s.
When someone that we love dies, there is a multitude of emotions that we process, and eventually, we land somewhere in acceptance but the pain never actually goes away. FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER was a beautiful tribute as to why it is so important to remember, that once we accept that we have to move forward without that person, that it is important to never forget them.
I send my sincere thanks to Rachel Beanland for writing this beautiful story and for shining a light on her great-great-aunt and the legacy that she left behind.
FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER will be published on July 7, 2020, and is available to pre-order now.