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Swimming for Sunlight

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  597 ratings  ·  182 reviews
When recently divorced Katie Ellis and her rescue dog Bark move back in with Katie’s grandmother in Florida, she becomes swept up in a reunion of her grandmother’s troupe of underwater performers—finding hope and renewal in unexpected places, in this sweet novel perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Claire Cook.

Aspiring costume designer Katie gave up everything in her di
Paperback, 334 pages
Published April 23rd 2019 by Atria Books
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Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What first got my attention to this book was of course the cover! That sweet little pup on the cover stole my interest :).

I cannot say enough good things about this sweet sweet novel! This was the perfect book to come into my life right now!

If you're thinking this is going to be a romance novel.. you're completely wrong. Allie Larkin explores love, friendship, overcoming your fears, anxiety, and happiness in this beautiful novel.

Between the fury rescue pup Bark, the mermaid team of hip grandmas
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ahh, Swimming for Sunlight is so sweet and refreshing! Just what I needed! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Katie is an aspiring costume designer, and I knew she was my kind of gal when I read she gave up everything in her divorce settlement- everything- in order to keep her rescue dog. At a loss on what her next steps should be, Katie moves home to Florida to live with her grandmother. Her former underwater performer grandmother.

Nan was a mermaid performer in a roadside show, and she had a group of close friend
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a free advanced e-copy of Swimming for Sunlight by Allie Larkin from NetGalley for my honest review.

Oh my, where to start. Such a beautiful, moving, emotional and memorable book. Katie and her dog, Bark go to Florida after her divorce. Katie, is young, depressed and is struggling with anxiety and fears as well. She is also still mourning the loss of her father. She ends up moving in with her Grandmother (Nan).

Katie learns that Nan was a mermaid performer back in the day. Katie decide
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

Decent, light, feel sad then feel good type of read. This worked well as a quick vacation read. Katie is in her late 20s and just divorced, when she moves back in with her grandmother with her dog Bark in tow. Katie has a lot of baggage stemming from her father's death and her mother's subsequent abandonment. Katie's grandmother and her group of friends were her anchor as a child and serve the same purpose after Katie's divorce. The story is a quite predictable and Katie is a bit melodr
Swimming for Sunlight is an uplifting story full of love, friendship, growth and multi-generational comradery that will fill your heart with joy from beginning to end.

Katie Ellis suffered a double loss as a child; her father died of a heart attack as they were playing in the water and her mother abandoned her shortly thereafter. As a result, despite an abundance of love from her grandmother, Nan, and the caring of all of Nan’s friends, Katie suffers from debilitating anxiety disorder which now h
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adore everything about Allie Larkin’s latest book, the characters, the locale (atmospheric!), the mermaids. (You’ll have to read the book to find out who and what they are.) I fell in love with Luca and I want to adopt Bark. (Don’t worry Sunny, you’re still my top dog.) I especially love Katie and the internal battles she waged and overcame. SWIMMING FOR SUNLIGHT is a poignant and authentic exploration of one woman learning to cope with her anxiety and finding her happy place in life. It’s my ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

So "Swimming for Sunlight." I went back and forth on this one. The main character is Katie Ellis who divorces her husband and takes her rescue dog Bark back to Florida to stay with her maternal grandmother, Nan. Katie gives up everything that she is entitled to so her husband doesn't get joint custody of the dog. So she arrives with paper bags filled with clothes and I kid you not when your grandmother q
mindful.librarian ☀️
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-reads
🧜‍♀️🐕😭 Oh my word. I read the last half of this book at the pool this afternoon and I honestly don’t know if that water damage on the bottom (sorry library - I’ll pay for it!) is from pool water or my tears that were streaming down my face for pages upon pages of the story.
This may just be the most poignant book about grief and anxiety and what it’s like to get easily overwhelmed by the world that I’ve ever read and it was simply beautiful. And there’s a DOG ❤️😭 A dog with his own healing to do
Chatting About
Rich in details and brimming with emotions, this book pulled me in and captivated my attention each time I picked it up to read. It pulls at your heartstrings as protagonist, Katie, and her dog, Bark, help each other with anxiety issues, and as Katie helps Nan reunite with her friends from the past to become a beautiful group of senior mermaids. A wonderful, light, and poignant read.

I reviewed a digital arc provided by NetGalley and Atria. Thank you.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. Trust me. Just read it. Warm and delightful and bursting with empathy.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: from-author
When Katie gets divorced all she wants out the marriage is her rescue dog Bark. Katies moves back home to Florida with her grandmother and her quirky group of friends. Katie learns all these things about the past and her grandmother. Nan was an underwater mermaid performer. While Katie helps her grandmother find her lost friends and bring back the troupe of mermaids,Katie discovers how much her tragic past and her fears and anxiety are holding her back. Holding Bark back as well. I loved this st ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
SWIMMING FOR SUNLIGHT by Allie Larkin is such a perfect way to spend the day. Be prepared to ignore everything else until you are done. All I wanted to do when I finished reading was to reach out and give Katie and her grandmother Nan a big hug. Katie is recently divorced and basically, takes her rescue dog, Bark, a few bags of clothes, and runs to Nan’s. To say that Nan has an interesting bunch of friends, would be a huge under statement. When Nan and her friends were younger, they were underwa ...more
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

I love a good book about starting over and this one caught my eye with the mention of a close relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I was incredibly close to my own grandma and valued our relationship so very much and I figured I would really enjoy reading about Katie and Nan’s special bond. I was mostly right, this was a light and sweet read that will make for good summer reading.

At the surface level there is plenty about Katie to like and I did admire her resolve when
Feb 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021-read

I wish I had liked this more. I chose to read this one because 1) the dog on the cover looks so sweet, nuzzling the girl sitting beside of him, and 2) because I love reading when characters have great relationships with their grandparents. I had a particularly special relationship with my grandmother, so I was looking forward to remembering about my own experiences with my Grandma while I read about Katie and Nan.

Things I Liked:

1. Katie's dog is a rescue dog named Bark. Throughout the sto
Thank you to Netgalley and Atria books for this ARC - it was a surprisingly delightful book and I am proud to be able to review it.
I started this book with an apprehensive spirit to be honest - I was worried it was going to be a run of the mill romance novel. Thankfully I was wrong, it is a romance but it is also a bit of family drama, BFF reinforcement and an awareness raiser. I was happily proven wrong.
The fact that Katie starts off her story in the divorce court with the ‘new’ woman sat outsi
Lloyd Russell
Back in May, I read Swimming for Sunlight, by Allie Larkin. I loved it. And we already had her scheduled to come to the RBC in November. So why haven't I written a review, you ask? For the same reason I haven't written dozens of others!...I don't know. But it is what it is, as they say. In any case, and even though I included it in my list of 22 books that I recommend you all read, I want to take a couple of minutes to give it its own post. Here's the storyline:

Katie Ellis gave up everything in
Having recently finished “Swimming for Sunlight” by Allie Larkin, I am happy to have had the chance for the preview; thank you NetGalley and Atria Press!

Of course I was drawn to the cover art with this book! A gal... and her dog... but the story inside ended up not being at all what I expected.

No one knows in what ways grief and guilt can change your world. For me... this story was a look at both of those emotions with mega doses of anxiety thrown in. The bits of "light" that shone through in
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Two things

1. I wanted to love this more than I did. It’s started out with sparks flying! I was smiling. I was laughing. I empathized. And then FIZZLE. (Also, some editing would have helped greatly)
2. Larkin’s other books were fresh and fun. Read those first. I didn’t dislike this one, in fact my 3 Star “Good” rating is based purely on Nan and her tribe of amazing friends. They are certainly something to aspire to.
Jamie Rosenblit
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
The words that ran through my head as I read Swimming for Sunlight were endearing, delightful and extraordinarily heartfelt. Allie Larkin has written a story about starting over when the odds have beaten you down time and time again and she has done so in a way that makes you want to reach out and hug our protagonist, Kay and of course, Kay's delightful rescue dog, Bark. More than that, Larkin has created a dream of a character in Kay's grandmother, Nan. Nan raised Kay for most of her life and e ...more
T. Rosado

5 Stars

Although the female protagonist (Katie) was in her late 20’s, a large part of the story centered around a group of septuagenarian women. One being the grandmother who raised Katie. I don’t typically seek out books about older characters or do I often read about characters that are even my own age, let alone my parents age. Well, this book has shamed me and my ageist ways. I loved this story! The impact that the older women had on Katie was inspiring and gave a fabulous voice to an age gro
Booksandchinooks (Laurie)
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for a free copy of this book for review. Katie has just divorced her husband and has gone back home to Florida with her dog Bark to once again live with her grandmother. I love stories with family dynamics and this has a lot of that. Katie spent a lot of her childhood living with her grandmother and surrounded by her grandmother’s fun loving and eccentric friends which have become like family. Katie left her marriage with only a couple of bags of clothes an ...more
Caroline Angell
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved loved LOVED this book! In “Swimming for Sunlight,” Allie Larkin has written an absorbing, insightful tale of all the people and places in which we find strength. She's created a world I’d love to live in, full of vividly rendered characters who are as complex and resilient as they are big-hearted and funny. There is nothing like a great story, well-told; this is Larkin’s specific expertise. ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Netgalley and Atria books for ARC - it was a surprisingly delightful book and I am proud to be able to review it.
I started this book with an apprehensive spirit to be honest - I was worried it was going to be a run of the mill romance novel. Thankfully I was wrong, it is a romance but it is also a bit of family drama, BFF reinforcement and an awareness raiser. I was happily proven wrong.
The fact that Katie starts off her story in the divorce court with the ‘new’ woman sat outside wa
Susan Peterson
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness...this good! Allie Larkin’s storytelling swept me away with its beautiful words; its colorful, lovable, and complex characters; a story swirling with emotions that had me laughing and crying, often at the same time. When Katie heads to her grandmother’s house after her divorce, she brings along her somewhat neurotic dog, Barkimedes, along with deep-rooted anxiety, fears, and years of hurt. What unfolds after she arrives in Florida is a poignant, thought-provoking, and e ...more
Kim Territo
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Allie Larkin is one of my favorite authors, so I was really happy to hear she was coming out with another book. Unfortunately, it wasn't coming out until April of 2019, so a little disappointed I was going to have to wait SOOOOOOO long. Then I was delighted when my daughter, a very informed librarian, let me know it was available on NetGalley now. I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle Fire and began reading. As with both her other books, there is an awesome story line with amazing characters. ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I’ll come back and write a more detailed review later but all I can say is I absolutely loved this book and it gives you all the feels. Bark is my spirit animal 🐶🐾
Barbara White
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I loved this book. The writing is gorgeous, and the characters are quirky in the best ways. A heroine struggling to overcome anxiety, a messed-up rescue dog, a talented female metal artist who wears men's thrift-store clothes, a cute film-maker, and spunky older woman who just want to be mermaids. How could you NOT want to read SWIMMING FOR SUNLIGHT? ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Allie Larkin's first two novels, and Swimming for Sunlight was a long time coming. It is definitely worth the wait though!

This was such a sweet and heartwarming story. Nan and her friends were so much fun, full of life and energy. Katie's dog Bark was a force to be reckoned with. I loved his personality, as well. Katie was relatable and I could really feel her anxiety during certain parts. I loved her friendship with Mo, as it reminded me of myself and my best friend. I als
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars: A beautiful book about conquering your fears, overcoming the past and finding a bright new future.

Katie chatters all the way to Florida to her beloved dark, Barkimedies. Katie is heading home after her divorce to live with her Grandma Nan. Katie has no idea what she will do, but she and Bark hope to do it together. Once she arrives home, Katie and Bark are still crippled with fear and anxiety, but they slowly begin to overcome their fears. Katie heals by sewing costumes f
Ramsey Hootman
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Swimming for Sunlight is the literary equivalent of a chocolate chip cookie just out of the oven, warm and soft in the center. I loved the setup - Katie trying to salvage her emotional well-being by just giving up everything in her divorce except her dog definitely felt like something I might do in similar circumstances. She goes home to a group of elderly women who offer unconditional love and gently shepherd her as she learns to face (and finally deal with) her anxiety.

I liked how nobody here
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Allie Larkin is the internationally bestselling author of the novel Stay, and Why Can’t I Be You (2013). She has never ordered a dog off the internet or assumed a new identity to attend a high school reunion. When Allie writes, she wears an oversized circa 1980’s acrylic sweater that is a crime against fashion and good taste in general. She loves Boston. The band, not the city. But the city is gre ...more

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“I see it now. The way you are—the worry and fear—that’s the price you pay for that lion heart. You’re always on guard to save the ones you love, aren’t you?” I reached for her hand and held it to my chest.“We would all save you too,” she said. “Don’t forget that.” 0 likes
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