I will be completely honest and say I am not crazy about Swimming to Elba written by Silvia Avallone. Swimming to Elba is a coming of age or sorts for two thirteen year old girls who are on the brink of womanhood a little too soon than most would imagine. Anna and Francesca have a story that's worth being told because I'm sure their story is not unique although this not is not for the faint of heart. It's an honest account of what it means for these two young girls, aspiring just to get out of their circumstances, to have a chance at life. This is what sparked my attention and made me want to read this novel.
Avallone is descriptive when setting up the landscape, people, and economic status of Piombino, Italy. A place that has a lone factory that employs most of it inhabitants. The neighborhood that Anna and Francesca live in is less than ideal where they are usually hounded by salacious terms of endearment, drug addicts, abusive parents, and poverty. Anna and Francesca brave this world together until one misstep causes them to fall out of favor with each other and part ways. It is their time apart where they learn that life is best tackled with your best friend by your side.
In many ways Swimming to Elba tells the story of a friendship that we all wish we have if we don't already. It also makes the reader nostalgic for the days of their youth when fun in the sun is the best reprieve. But these girls deal with so much more. There is always an underlying tension in this book because of the choices being made by our protagonist and the people around them. The reason why I can't say that I honestly adored this novel is because of the constant drug references, sexual situations, and expletives that were placed in the text for whatever reason. These moments took away from the beauty that the story is by itself without such grit.
Ultimately, although this is a story about teens there is nothing teen about this novel. That is not a bad thing but I'm throwing that out there as a buyer beware. I thank Silvia Avallone for sharing the story of Anna and Francesca and I hope that her next novel captivates me more than this one has. I would recommend this novel to anyone who's interested in reading about teens who live in a world that doesn't have a picket fence and salvation comes in the form of escape. **