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Swell

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2.72  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Thirty years after From Rockaway ("A great first novel" --Harper's Bazaar), Jill Eisenstadt returns with a darkly funny new work of fiction that exposes a city and a family at their most vulnerable.

When Sue Glassman's family needs a new home, Sue relents, after years of resisting, and agrees to convert to Judaism. In return, Sue's father-in-law, Sy, buys the family--Sue, D
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Lee Boudreaux Books
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Megan Clarke
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
This was 100 percent my favorite book of the year. Real characters. Hilarious but puts you in your feelings. I would give this as a present to someone I love.
Girlpower
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Swell is a beach read, a Rockaway tale featuring a newcomer family crashing into the turf of surfers, chinese refugees, and post- 9/11 firemen, locals you recognize, and Rose who is unique in contemporary fiction. Nobody like Rose. I found the first chapter to be the smartest, best, and most skillful writing I’ve read in the last decade, its themes of safety, place and heart expand with the novel. Virginia Woolf in a bikini Proust in board shorts, both with sunburned noses, how I would describe ...more
Jennifer
Jul 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Listened to the audio book. Generally meh.
Nancy Tiffany
May 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
For a book that took place over a short time span, it seemed like a very long journey. I wanted to like this book, but found it difficult to like, dislike or connect with the characters.
Jennifer
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-books
this was not swell. (sorry! though there are good plays on the word in this book.) while reading, this story felt very bogged down, and it dragged for me. i feel like the author just tried to do too much and it didn't all come together well. there wasn't much that i enjoyed here, though eisenstadt's writing was fine.
Sylvia
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Half the book was enough for me. The quirky characters were the only thing getting me that far. Pretty pointless and disappointing.
Jill Meyer
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
What does the word "swell" mean? It can refer to an increase in an ocean wave as it comes in towards the shore. Or to the lines of a pregnant woman's belly as she nears the end of her term. At its simplest, it can just connote an increase in pride, love, or another feeling. I thought of all these meanings as I read Jill Eisenstadt's newest novel, "Swell". Set in Rockaway, New York, it's a sequel of sorts of her first novel, "From Rockaway", which I haven't read. The two books share many of the s ...more
Bridget Kruszka
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Swell was an easy read. It's the book you want to bring to a beach with you to read while drinking a margarita.

As I just tried writing a synopsis of the plot, I realized there is not much more to the story than the summary written on the front flap. The storyline had me captivated for the most part- it followed the Glassmans, an old lady Rose, and the next door neighbor firefighter Tim. The reason for the low rating is that every plotline in the book has a boring, confusing ending. It was as if
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Meredith Lewin
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I think the story got off to a great start and there were some interesting twists along the way. I can see this being made into a movie. It's both funny and dark with lots of characters who are characters. There are a number of open-ended plot lines that left me wanting to know a little more but, except for the exposition, the story takes place over three days and probably couldn't go on much further.
Gabriella
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m surprised this book gets such low stars here. I thought it was funny and quick moving. There isn’t a lot of plot but the writing was very good and it was generally very amusing.
Ann
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found the idea of binding together the peninsula's biggest and saddest national news stories--The Golden Venture, 9/11, the crash of Flight 587--together intriguing, and telling it all from the perspective of non-natives (in the form of the Glassmans) is a far more interesting take than having a bunch of people from Rockaway talking about Rockaway. But I think the author's decision to incorporate characters from her 1987 novel threw the entire book off balance. Just about every member of the o ...more
Ava Butzu
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I listened to a great interview with Jill Eisenstadt and rushed to grab this book. Despite the critical acclaim "Swell" received, I was just moderately interested in the characters and the plot, which was too bad, since the themes indicated such potential.

The main character, Sue Glassman, feels she's been strong-armed into converting to Judaism by her father-in-law in order to inherit his recently-acquired beach home. At the end of her 3rd trimester with her 3rd child, she is the very symbol of
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Jo Anne
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had a good time reading this book. Many of the characters initially turned me off, but I liked them better and better as I got to know them. I grew to like the loud-mouthed teen, the very pregnant mom, the batty old lady, and the nosy neighbor. The author did a great job making these folks seem real.

The story made me think about the nature of change, as most of the characters experienced some sort of major change in the few days covered by the book.

I recommend this book for its strong charact
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Sabrina Starr
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Swell radiates wisdom and understanding. Eisenstadt artfully weaves big topics such as religion, historical and local trauma on a community, family, motherhood, marriage and much more in this beautiful novel. You could read this book 1000 times over and still find something new in it. Some bit of insight to carry with you on good and bad days. Buy this book. Gift it. Buy it again. Leave one on your coffee table. Put one in your tote to bring with you to the beach. Ride the subway w/ this stunner ...more
Alicia
Sep 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
I found that this book just fell into a disjointed mess. Starting with the very strange encounter the daughter had on the beach with a boy she just met. It left me thinking, "What the hell was that?" Is the thought process the character had even close to realistic? From there it just fell apart. The conversations were shallow, pointless and disconnected. I couldn't take anymore, didn't finish.
Chris Notionless
Aug 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Nope. Wasn't a fan of the writing style, it read very choppy to me. Did not finish and based on the other reviews (that I just read now) seems like cutting this book loose was a good decision. A shame too since I love surfing and it's based nearby in NY, thought would have been a sure win.
Sharon Thomas
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Hilarious characters. The heroine drags the leaves of her dining table out to the beach and burns them so she doesn't have to cook for so many relatives. However, I'm not sure the whole book hangs together all that well.
Jilly
Aug 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2017, netgalley
It's rare for me to find a book as unlikable as I found this one. The characters were obnoxious, the plot nonexistent and forcing myself to finish it was a battle. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and had it not been for that obligation I would not have bothered to finish it.
Debdanz
Dec 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Hated everything about this book except the cover and how short it was. Maybe the author was trying to be darkly comedic, but I don't see anything funny about misogyny, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. And if she wasn't trying to be funny, then I don't know what she was trying to do.
Alison
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Easy read with crazy characters.
Kara
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: new-york
Took forever to finish this short book. There was nothing that kept me interested.
Chloe Fowler
Oct 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
Either I'm in a bad mood or this is a total load of rubbish. Or both.
Cindie Harp
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: summer-src-2017
funny but a bit uneven
Elka
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was frenetic, occasionally witty and very rarely wise, but there wasn't a single likeable (or relatable) character in the whole motley crew.
Rachel Smith
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
Julia
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
The story line was good. The ending left me hanging. I won't ruin it for anyone else.
Stefani
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this in 24 hours so that should tell you something.
Onceinabluemoon
2.5 rounded up. Started out with a bang but it kind of fizzled out quick for me... very ny, I am very ca. Did love the cover~
april
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hilarious and quirky characters. Then listen to the audible version.
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Jill Eisenstadt was raised in Rockaway, New York. She was educated at Bennington College and Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn.
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