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The Art of Floating

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  297 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
At a time when nothing seems real,
it takes something truly unusual to put your life into focus. 
When her beloved husband Jackson disappeared without a trace, popular novelist Sia Dane stopped writing, closed down her house, stuffed her heart into a cage, and started floating. It wasn’t the normal response to heartache, but Sia rarely did things the normal way.

Exactly one y
Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Berkley
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Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Many other novels have dealt with great love, tragic loss and the wrenching, exhausting task of rebuilding one’s life from the ground up, but very few of them manage to pull it off with anything approaching the wit, style and grace of Kristin Bair O’Keeffe in The Art of Floating.

One year, one month and six days after her beloved husband disappears without a trace, novelist Sia Dane discovers a beautiful man on the beach, dressed in a soaking, salt-encrusted business suit. She takes him home and
Holly Robinson
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Most of the time, we read books and say, “Aha, this is like that last book I ready by so-and-so.” But there is no possible way to do that with THE ART OF FLOATING. Kristin Bair O'Keeffe has written an intelligent, provocative novel that seems on its surface to be traditional fiction, in that it's an emotional mystery about a woman whose life is shattered when her beloved husband disappears without explanation. That, in itself, would be a decent book. But the language and characters delivered on ...more
Judy Collins
THE ART OF FLOATING is an extraordinary and magical novel – a complex, deep and thought-provoking story of love, loss, and grief ---a state of mind, one of mere existing--a state of floating, a world of imagination, suspended to protect oneself from grief, and hurt---Coping without really living or accepting, unable to move on.

Meaning of floating: “having little or no attachment, not firmly placed or set or fastened, uncommitted, not bound or pledged, continually moving or changing position.”

Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, re-read
Yoga for the mind—check out the “studio” of the book: in 441 pp. there are 171 chapters, there are quotes, songs, jump-rope ditties, poems, numbers, dots—and words, unusual arrangements and choices of words, lovely words, fresh, colorful and that paint the defining strokes in each picture. The words hold hands in this book, they belong together and show us things in a new way.

Stretching is required in this book of yoga for the mind—who’s who and what’s what are not obvious and the only way to fi
Mar 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I did not know what to make of this book when I first read the concept. All I know is that it sounded promising and this is why I wanted to read this book. I must admit that I did not love this book but I did not hate it either. It was just middle of the road for me. I found Toad to be the most intriguing person in the story and he did not even talk. Sia she was ok. In the beginning I found her kind of dull. Although as the story progressed, she did get better but I never fully connected with he ...more
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I will not ruin this read for anyone by writing an in-depth review because the delight comes in discovery with this book. A whimsical yet masterful accumulation of meaning about what it means to be lost--and found.

Are "fresh" books still being written? Kristin Bair O'Keeffe shows the answer: yes!
McKenzie Lynn Tozan
Even when you read regularly, it takes time to find something truly great; but every once in a while, there will be a book, a poem, a story, that truly turns you on your heel, holds you in place, and keeps you loving, recommending and discussing that piece for months. Though first described to me as “a great summer read” and “something good to take to the beach,” Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s The Art of Floating was precisely that piece I needed to improve my summer—and not just by giving me a book to ...more
Stevie Carroll
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, & The Unread:

This is a rather odd sort of book, but the dreamy quality of the main narrative fits it perfectly. Small towns are notorious for being strange, but the location for The Art of Floating is stranger than most, and this is reflected not only in the mood of the book, but also in the way it and its chapters are structured: sometimes a chapter moves the story along by telling another part of the main story, and sometimes it just pulls out snip
John Thorndike
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing

I love the structure of this novel, and the confidence with which O’Keeffe handles her chronology. The book opens, naturally, with the most fascinating moment: the appearance of the stranger-from-the-sea. In the second chapter we hear about the other pivotal moment of Sia Dane’s life, the disappearance of her husband, and soon we have scenes from the years of their marriage, from Sia’s childhood, from the viewpoint of a mysterious collector of lost things—all as the current story rolls along.

Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. The first sentence immediately pulled me in and by the first two chapters, I was completely hooked. So many mysteries--who is the strange woman watching Sia? What happened to Sia's husband? Who is the man with the Robert Redford looks? How did he wash up on shore? Will he ever speak? Will he and Sia become a couple? O'Keeffe's characters and their plotlines kept me reading well into the night.

I lingered over the descriptions of the people who populate the New England seaside t
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thanks Carolyn Obel-Omia, my work reading buddy, for lending me this book. It was a perfect read for Mother’s Day weekend. I sat in the hot tub and beside a pool to read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it! Yes, it is probably classified correctly as a women’s fiction book, but it certainly was not a fluff or no nonsense narrative. The writing was refreshing and I enjoyed the theme of the beach with the piping plovers! The book is the story about a novelist, Sia Dane. whose husband unexpectedly d ...more
Donny Truong
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Unlike Thirsty , Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s dark, disturbing, straightforward debut, The Art of Floating is poignant, witty and unconventional. Like Tarantino's nonlinear art direction, the stories unfolds in an imaginative, interrupted flow. The novel has 171 chapters. A long chapter could be a few pages and a short chapter could be a sentence. In other word, Bair O’Keeffe’s idiosyncratic approach should be noted for creative writing and fictional storytelling. In addition, one of her gifted sk ...more
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-read
I enjoyed The Art of Floating - one of Goodreads giveaways. The cover made me think it was going to be a light, frothy beach read - but that was not the case.

It can be summed up very simply - it's the story of lost and found things in the life of Sia Dane. Odyssia is an empathic novelist married to a game warden who lives in a small town on Plum Island, Massachusetts. He is the first thing she loses.

The book has elements of suspense, romance and magical realism without being firmly in any camp.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a story line! There's a novelist, Sia, who is a beach person through & through (was even born on a beach) married to Jackson, a naturalist who is happiest in a forest setting. They are this perfect match for one another of those Ying and Yang things. He disappears one day without a trace and we (the readers) experience her response to this tragedy. While in her healing months, Sia stumbles upon a mysterious, mute & unresponsive man on the beach & Sia becomes obsessed with ...more
Wendy Miller
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
THE ART OF FLOATING is the exact kind of read I love to happen upon. With a fresh, engaging storyline, I found myself enjoying every single page. I appreciated the innovative style of storytelling and the way O’Keeffe not only succeeded in creating likable, intriguing characters, but also a page-turning reflective glimpse of grief that didn’t depress me.

I share a lot in common with dog-loving, empathetic novelist, Sia. I became entrenched in her story from the first page to the last. No doubt I’
Monique Colver
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Kristin Bair O'Keeffe's newest book about being lost and found is magical, and came at a time when I myself felt lost. The unusual narrative style was refreshing, and like her last book, Thirsty, I read almost straight through, not wanting to miss a moment of whatever was going to happen next. This is unusual for me lately, since I am lost and have trouble focusing, but her writing pulls me in, and her characters are people I wouldn't mind knowing. It's sad, in parts, because life is sad, in par ...more
Kelly Hevel
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I'm a fan of wisely measured magical realism, and this book engulfed me from the start. O'Keeffe knows how to create a world that feels realistic but just a little...different. And after all isn't that why we read, to visit different realities?

While it doesn't have a Hollywood ending, the novel progresses naturally toward its satisfying conclusion, and I was sorry to leave this strangely compelling and familiar world of waterlogged strangers and empaths when it was finished.
Elizabeth Spaulding
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I opened The Art of Floating, my latest read-before-going-to-sleep book, one night last week. I read way past the time I usually turn off the light and put it down only because I couldn't will my eyes to remain open. Throughout the next day, I mulled over the plot, pondered the personalities of the characters, and was anxious to get back to Kristin Bair O'Keeffe's thought-provoking new book, which I finished the second night.
The ending is intriguing, and I wonder about the possibility of a sequ
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just finished The Art of Floating by Kristin Bair O’Keeffe. “Exactly one year, one month, and six days“ after her husband’s disappearance, Sia finds a lost man on the beaches of Plum Island. As the story unfolds, Sia is determined to find where this man belongs and to discover what happened to her beloved Jackson. It is a wonderful book with a compelling storyline, fascinating characters, lyrical language, and a complex narrative structure. I heartily recommend it!
Wow. This book blew me away. The author tackles a not uncommon theme (coping with loss of a loved one) and takes it to a different--and completely unique--level. The writing style is exceptional and unlike anything I've ever read. It's captivating, mysterious, and a little surreal. Some might be put off by the writing style but I found it brilliant. There was nothing about this I didn't love.
Sharry Miller
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A strange and wonderful love story in which loves are lost and found and lost again, The Art of Floating by Kristin Bair O'Keefe will leave you wondering what is going on while you're cheering for Odyssia Dane to find herself again. A lost husband, a found stranger, a best friend, and a devoted mother - from these, Sia must find a way to stop floating above her life and start living it again.
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved the dreamy quality and it was the perfect swim/beach theme for the time I spend at the pool while my son takes swim lessons.

The narrative drifts around and at times floated a bit too far for me to keep hooked in but I admire the snippets the author used to weave this story of love and loss together.
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I can't tell you how much I loved this book. It's light and a bit silly, but it moves really well and is just a complete joy. Think whimsical Alice Hoffman meets romantic Jojo Moyes meets well-read-narrator-you-want-to-be-besties-with. If I were more inclined to own books I'd want this one on a bedside bookshelf.
Julie Long
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A uniquely beautiful story, about sorrow without being sorrowful and heavy. In fact, it's the opposite of heavy, though "light" isn't quite the right word. Nor is "ethereal." It's magical buoyancy tethered to witty realism. Hopefulness grounded in healing. And it reads like a breeze that sometimes flicks your hat off!
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
At one point, Sia Dane, the writer/narrator of Kristin Bair O'Keefe's second novel, The Art of Floating, says, "No one kicks ass on a sophomore novel." Sia Dane was wrong. Bair O'Keefe kicks ass. The Art of Floating is sad, funny, sexy, risky, and utterly original, I recommend it highly.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Magical realism, hope, despair, loss, redemption and an inventive, creative writing style make this a charming read. I love the author's fresh take on death and the overcoming of a tremendous loss.
Stephen Porter
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A sweet, lyrical novel about loss and love and grief written by an author with the soul of a poet. Read my full review on my blog, The Lazy Writer:
Jamie Wallace
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't often give a book 5 stars, and I leave comments even less frequently, but this book bowled me over from the first page.
I wrote a review and how this book inspired me to book lust here:
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story by Kristin Bair O'Keeffe! Such fun reading about my one-time-hometown. More than that, however, this was just a beautifully written story. Absolutely magical. Highly recommended.
Dave White
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fanciful tale with down to earth characters. Loved it. The author has connected well with the characters. Each one has their own very human struggles and quirks. I felt like I knew the people in this story.
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