After not receiving a letter from her sister for two months, Magdalena journeys to America from a small Croatian island named Rosmarina. Magdalena is worried that something has happened to Jadranka, her free-spirited, artistic, younger sister who's unable to sit still long anyplace. Although Magdalena and Jadranka are very different, they share a close bond to each other. The worry and concern for Jadranka always provides a sense of angst for the reader since history has dictated that usually circumstances don't always work out for the adventurer.
As Magdalena searches for her sister, the author Courtney Angela Brkic, provides excerpts from the past lives of the Babic family and their existence in the war-torn country of Croatia. Their reasons for leaving or staying in Rosmarina are revealed. For some, like Magdalena, Rosmarina is their home. For others, such as Marin and Jadranka, it's the one place they wish to never return. Each flashback is perfectly executed and really provides insight to the characters introduced in The First Rule of Swimming.
The First Rule of Swimming is a must read while at the beach this summer. This is a short read but not a light read. Themes such as family, tragedy, guilt, past shames, and sisterhood are heavy in this novel. The characters are well-developed and demensional. You will feel like you know these people by the end of the book and their actions will be totally justified. I look forward to reading more by Brkic. ****