Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland
Published July 2020 by Simon and Schuster
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:
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 bedrest 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.

My Thoughts:
To prove how important the cover of a book can be, when Netgalley asks potential reviewers why they're requested a particular book, one of the reasons is the cover. To be honest, between the title and the cover, I was going to request this book - doesn't it, after all, look like a perfect summer read? While the cover and title and absolutely perfect, they are also very misleading. This book is not a simple summer beach read.

If I'd paid at least as much attention to the description as I did to the cover, I would have known that. I would also have noticed that the Jewish faith was going to play a role in this book. But I didn't notice that. So early on Beanland not only stunned me with something incredibly she also surprised me with how much of a role faith was playing in the book. And, I'll be honest, I wasn't sure that was going to be a book I was interested in reading. I'd recently read two books in which the Jewish faith played a big role and I wasn't necessarily interested in reading another one so soon. But you all know how hard it is for me to put down a book, so I kept reading.

While faith continued to be a part of the story, it began to feel less intrusive and more cohesive to the story. And I began to care about these characters and to understand the family dynamic. By the end, I was really enjoying the book and happy about how things played out.

I did have a couple issues with the book as I was reading but some of those have faded away as I've thought about the book more. Isaac is always the guy you're going to dislike, even when you find out why he is the way he is; but in real life, not everyone grows and changes so his lack of growth is not only to be expected but more believable.

If you choose to read this book, I'd definitely recommend you read the afterward. Much of the story is based on Beanland's family history. I think she's written a lovely homage to her great-aunt Florence!


  1. Thank you for the review. New book for me.

  2. The title and the cover do catch my eye but I am rather glad it's not all fluffy pillows and moonbeams.

    1. Definitely not fluffy pillows and moonbeams. Lots of dark themes.