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Florence Adler Swims Forever

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Over the course of one summer that begins with a shocking tragedy, three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets.

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. This is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence. 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.

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 after tragedy.

309 pages, Hardcover

First published July 7, 2020

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About the author

Rachel Beanland

3 books678 followers
Rachel Beanland is the author of the forthcoming novel, THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in April 2023. Her debut novel, FLORENCE ADLER SWIMS FOREVER, received the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction (Greenberg Prize) and has been published or is forthcoming in nine countries. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and received her MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her family.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,730 reviews
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,112 reviews2,804 followers
January 27, 2023
I adore Florence Adler Swims Forever. The book is based on a true story of the author's family and there is a postscript that describes the differences from real life and the book. The story is filled with such sadness over the few months it takes place because someone very special dies suddenly and the family is keeping the death a secret from Fanny, who is in her seventh month of a very risky pregnancy. Fanny lost a premature baby boy the summer before and she is at risk of losing this baby too, so she is on bed rest, in the local hospital. Fanny's mother, Ester, has asked everyone who knows of the disaster, to not say anything about it, in order to prevent Fanny finding out, getting upset, and going into premature labor again. 

The story takes place in the summer of 1934 and concerns the Jewish Adler family, Esther, husband Joseph, and daughters Fanny and Florence. At the moment, they are living in their little apartment over their bakery, because they rent out their house, each summer. Living with them at this time, is their seven year old granddaughter, Gussie, and a nineteen year old emigrate from Nazi Germany, Anna. Ester doesn't understand why Joseph opened their home to this young lady, especially because she never even knew he'd grown up with the young lady's mother. Space is tight, money is tight, but the most important thing for the family is to not let anything upset Fanny, so that she will have a chance of carrying her baby to term. 

The story is narrated by seven characters, including little Gussie. What a smart, preceptive, but spoiled little girl...I just loved her. She knows that adults lie all the time, make things up, don't answer questions, pretend that they feel differently than they really do, and don't really pay attention to her. Through her eyes, we see so much and the adults have no idea how much they confuse her but also how much she really knows and understands. I enjoyed the viewpoints of all the characters and the author even allowed me to feel some sympathy for Fanny's almost worthless husband, Issac. 

The story is slow, as the family waits for the birth of Fanny's baby and the day when they must tell her the horrible news that they have been holding back. There is a sweet romance in the story too, and all the while we know the danger that looms across the ocean, for Anna's parents, if they can't get permission to emigrate to America, and for all those being persecuted by Hitler and his regime. For me, this was a very beautiful and satisfying story and I'm so glad to have gotten to read it. 

Publication date: July 7, 2020.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,296 reviews120k followers
June 3, 2021
Florence was not on that boat, would never arrive in France. He would not find her on the shores of the English Channel or at the Hygeia [pool] or even on the beaches of Atlantic City. He looked over at Stuart, who was openly weeping as he watched the boat disappear from view. Maybe Joseph’s daughter was to be found in the people who loved her.
Florence Adler was a strong young woman with a dream. A successful competitive swimmer, she wanted to take on the challenge of swimming the English Channel. “Trudy Ederle did it in a little over fourteen hours. I’m hoping to do it in under twelve.” While training for that feat in the ocean off Atlantic City, Florence, inexplicably, drowns. Terrible, awful, sad news. Florence’s older sister, Fannie, had a miscarriage the year before. She is pregnant again, but in the hospital with some complications. Desperate to spare her the emotional trauma of hearing of the death of her little sister, with its potential for impacting this pregnancy, Esther and Joseph Adler decide to keep the information from her until she has delivered her baby. And the die is cast. How to keep Fannie from knowing the truth before she can complete her pregnancy safely.

Rachel Beanland - image from NY Times

There are seven primary characters here, Florence’s parents, Esther and Joseph Adler, Florence’s pregnant older sister, Fannie, Fannie’s husband Isaac Feldman, their amazingly charming seven-year-old daughter, Gussie, Anna Epstein, a 20-something refugee from the Nazis the Adlers are putting up, and Stuart Williams, the handsome, charming, sweet-natured swimming instructor who was helping Florence with her training, and who was infatuated with her.
The story of Florence Adler and her family is based on the true story of a young woman named Florence Lowenthal. She was my great, great aunt. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about Florence’s drowning or about the family’s decision to keep her death a secret from her older sister, who was pregnant and on hospital bedrest. My mother and grandmother spoke of the decision—unequivocally—as the right thing to do, but I always wondered how that secret affected both mother and daughter and whether there might have been another way forward. - from the B&N bookclub version
Once the stage is set, the characters drive the story. We see most of these folks through their relationship with Florence, who quits the scene pretty early in the book, but also get a back (and front) story for them as well. Anna is the daughter of a woman Joseph had grown up with in Hungary. Esther is suspicious of her, resentful of family resources being spent on a stranger, whose relationship to her husband was not entirely clear. It is through Anna’s travails that we get a look at some of the horrors entailed in Jews trying to flee Nazi Germany for the states. It is 1934 and Nazis demand that Jews wanting to emigrate leave all their capital in Germany, while the USA was insisting that they be able to prove that they would not become dependent on the state. Joseph Heller would recognize this particular catch. There are some other machinations involved in the immigration process of the time that were entirely news to me. Anna takes a shine to Stuart after the accident, and asks for swimming lessons. Seems too soon, but there are powerful forces driving her need. Of course, she really, really likes Stuart, and he has become suddenly, if tragically, available.

Fannie’s husband, Isaac, is a piece of work. Seemingly a gambler at heart, he makes a raft of bad decisions, both before he finds his way to Atlantic City, and after he meets and weds Fannie. That he spends so little time visiting his wife in the hospital speaks volumes about his quality as a person. Yet, somehow, he and Fannie had produced…

Gussie, who is as well-spoken, precocious, and charming a seven-year-old as you are likely to meet. Of course, she is still a child, and has her limitations.
Children could be so mean. She [Esther] remembered thinking so when she was raising her own girls. They were often too honest, the words they chose too blunt. Their worlds were big and bold and colorful but they were not yet able to distinguish that colors had values, that words had nuance. They described the people around them as old or young, ugly or beautiful, fat or thin, never recognizing that there were kinder, gentler, more forgiving words that lay in between. Sometimes, when Gussie talked about Florence’s death, so matter-of-factly, Esther couldn’t help but feel like she’d been cut open, left exposed.
But Gussie is pure of heart, and you will warm to her every time she crosses the page. Would be nice, however, if she didn’t wander off on her own so much. Tough on the nerves, that. She is smitten, as are many, with…

Stuart Williams, not only gorgeous, and fit, a lifeguard, but incredibly responsible, ethical, and sweet (and, really, too too good to be true). Also heir to a hotel fortune, the flagship property well in sight of his lifeguard postings. Too bad pop is a raging anti-semite. Stuart wants as little to do with his father as possible, but he is far from free enough to be his own man quite yet. Still, a good all-around egg.

Fannie, and her pregnancy, is the focus of everyone’s concerns. The look we get of her centers on her reactions to the restrictions placed on her at the hospital. It requires a bit of a stretch to believe that she would not have burst through those, but then this is based on a real-life story, so I suppose there are some real-world towers to support those suspensions. The other element of Fannie we see is her marriage to Isaac. Not the best.

Esther takes the lead on running this counter-intelligence operation, supporting one daughter, while mourning another. Tough spot to be in. Clearly a strong woman, she has her chinks as well. She has some good instincts, fretting about Isaac, for example, and wondering why Joseph was so eager to help out his friend Inez and her daughter, Anna. But her Jewish-centeredness can also be a blunt shield to keep even the best people at a distance. She takes on some big personal questions through this challenge, one of which has to do with her husband…

Joseph is a successful businessman, having built his Atlantic City bakery into a growing concern. It allows him to provide for his family and offer support to his community. Part of this is to take in a refugee from Nazism. He is a decent father and a good man. Maybe not as attentive as he might be on the family front, but not horrible. He does what he can, which is a fair bit, some of it pretty daring, to try to see to the happiness of his daughters, and tries to be an even better man.

The structure is a chronologically linear primary story, with backstory segments filling in the history of the main characters. You should have no difficulty traversing characters and when things are taking place.

Florence Adler Swims Forever offers an engaging look at a time and a place, the world in the throes of Nazism, and the impact of that on Jews in and near Atlantic City, and those trapped in the Europe of the beast. It also looks at different ways in which people grieve, and how that grief can fester if left unattended. It takes on the ways in which secrecy is handled. When is it ok? How much is too much? Who gets to decide? And the damage that can be done when secrets are exposed. This is a tale of warmth, love, and the extreme and sometimes comical lengths to which a family will go to protect one of their own. There is a gentleness to this book, a tenderness, a kindness, like speaking softly to someone in grief. But there is also humor, and a steely-eyed gaze at behavior and decision-making. Quite the combination. And yeah, it can be sappy. So what? Be prepared to go Awwwwwwww. You are going to need a handy supply of tissues to read this one. And at a little over three hundred fast-reading pages, it will take you much, much less than forever to get through it. In fact, you might wish Florence would swim a bit longer while you enjoyed the sand and sun, and slowly sipped a delicious umbrella’d drink. Here’s hoping Rachel Beanland has more family tales, or even made up ones, to share with us in the years ahead. Come on in. the water’s fine.

Review first posted – July 24, 2020

Publication dates
==========July 7, 2020 - hardcover
==========June 1, 2021 - trade paperback

It was a Barnes & Noble Book Club selection for July 2020

I received an ARE of this book from Simon & Schuster in return for a review without sand in the creases. But let’s keep that just between us for now, ok?

And thanks to MC. You know who you are.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

Items of Interest
----- Rachel Beanland on Writing Florence Adler Swims Forever - from the B&N bookclub edition
----- How a Tragic Drowning Inspired Rachel Beanland's Florence Adler Swims Forever

-----Viewable on line at Trove - Fairy Tales of the South Seas by Annette Kellerman – illustrated by Marcelle Wooster
-----Wiki on Tender is the Night
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
992 reviews2,773 followers
July 26, 2020

This novel is beautifully written and conveys so many emotions that I could relate to. As a mother, I could relate to Esther, Florence’s mother, and all of the decisions that she made during the course of the story to protect her family. Her decisions are not easy ones to make and I wondered what I would do in this tragic situation.

This novel is told from several points of view and it was that technique that allowed me to really feel what each of these characters were thinking and what they were going through to cope with this tragedy.

Fannie is Florence’s sister who has been on bedrest in hospital because she had lost a baby the year before and is at high risk. She is unhappy that Florence hasn’t visited her and has trouble accepting the excuses that the rest of her family give her. She also misses her 7 year old daughter, Gussie, who was staying with her grandparents.

Gussie is wise beyond her years. She had watched the beginning of summer unfold, after her sister Florence returned from college. She had some doubts when Anna, a refugee from Germany, was brought into the family by her father. It was said that he and the girl’s mother grew up together, but Gussie felt that there was a missing piece of Anna’s story that she wasn’t being told. Gussie adored Florence and wanted to be with her as much as she could.

Gussie also had strong feelings for Stuart, a lifeguard at the beach where Florence often swam. He was a likable, sociable young man whom some were jealous of because his father is a very wealthy man. What they don’t know is that Stuart had been determined not to work for his family but to make a life on his own.

Joseph, Florence’s father, loves his family and is very supportive of Florence and her goals. He is devastated when a tragedy takes place. He is determined, however, to keep this secret from Fannie, as he is sure that it will devastate her and endanger the pregnancy. He is very unhappy with Fannie’s husband, Isacc, who has been very much absent in the care of his daughter Gussie and has not really been visiting his wife in hospital often. Joseph and Esther have never liked him and are sure that he is up to another scheme to make money, even though he has a good job working with Joseph.

Isaac is a very easy person to dislike. He seems to have little moral compass and shows little emotion towards Gussie and his wife. He is always dreaming up another plan that will make him a rich man, whether or not his wife wants any part of it. He is quite often absent during the turmoil that encompasses the family and offers no support to anyone.

Joseph’s decision to bring Anna to the United States does stem from a desire to rescue her from Hitler’s closing attacks on Jewish people, but we know that there is something else behind his support of her. Was he closer to her mother than he admits?

Anna herself is a hard person to understand. She can be kind but is also self serving and some of her actions I felt to be questionable. She was my least favorite character and one that I thought could have used more description for her actions, particularly at the end of the novel.

What kept this from being a 5 star book for me was the ending. I felt that it was too easily wrapped up and “happily ever after”, which is seldom true in real life.

This is a highly character driven family drama which, I was surprised to learn, is based on a real woman. In the author’s notes I read: “The character of Florence Adler is based on a real girl who grew up in Atlantic City. Her name was Florence Lowenthal and she was my great-great-aunt.” There are many other characters who were real people and many of the events did take place. It is probably this fact that shows through in the strength of this novel’s family dynamics. This is a book not to be rushed as there are many emotions and events to ponder over.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
April 4, 2021

"How many people know about...Florence?"
Florence and Fannie - sisters - spent their summers living above their parents' bakery.

Fannie's daughter, Gussie, is spending the summer with Florence and her grandparents (Esther and Joseph) because doctors have ordered Fannie to undergo complete bed rest due to a high-risk pregnancy.

Joseph then decides to take in the daughter of an old friend, Anna, to keep her safe from Nazi Germany and with that, the summer is off to a start.

Florence is training to swim across the channel, Gussie adores spending time with aunt and Fannie is stuck inside all the time, bored out of her mind.

But then...the unthinkable happens and the whole family is left reeling.


Except for Fannie.

Esther is adamant that telling Fannie what happened to Florence would jeopardize Fannie's pregnancy.

And so, the entire family prepares to keep a horrible secret until the end of August.
Eventually people felt so weighed down by the yoke of their own bad decisions that they could scarcely move.
But deciding to keep a secret, and actually doing it are two different things.

Ahhh...this one didn't go entirely to my expectations but it was still interesting.

I loved the perspective of Gussie and Joseph - they felt so heartbreakingly real.

The drama from the inclusion of Anna and Esther's principles certainly sparked interest. And factoring in the wobbling relationship between Fannie and her husband - wild.

However, even with all of that simmering in the background...this book felt slow.

The entire family was playing the waiting game for the birth of Fannie's child...and to me (as a reader), I felt that.

It also felt frustrating (and a bit unnecessary) to hid the truth to begin with (which frustrated me), though that could just be my experience influencing the way I view this.

Someone I loved dearly died and I wasn't told about it for a few days (my parents were worried about a college test)...and while I made it to the funeral, that moment of finding out...it's something I've never forgotten.

I couldn't imagine being in Fannie's position, where your own parents conceal such a tragedy from you because they arbitrarily decided you couldn't handle it. It's a huge betrayal.

All in all, this book was interesting but I never fully connected and I feel like my own experiences pulled me out of it.

A huge thank you to Simon and Schuster, and Rachel Beanland for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews36k followers
April 29, 2020
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 raise their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home”.

“Florence has returned home from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel.
Fannie, Pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insist they take in a mysterious young woman who he recently helped immigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams”.

“Based on a true story....a family saga about how far we would go to protect our loved ones — and an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy”.

I deeply connect to this next excerpt. It brings up many thoughts, memories of love, loss, death, and grief in my own immediate family)....
and sadness for several of my friends who have recently lost their mothers, and husbands just this month:
“Abe began to chant the words as Esther sobbed into the wet silk of Florence’s bathing suit. She imagined the Hebrew letters knitting together as they floated through the air, forming an invisible blanket that, when wrapped around Florence, would keep her safe”.
When Abe began the Shema, Joseph joined in, “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad. Here O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. How many times has Esther heard this prayer? A thousand times? More? Had she even considered what it meant? It was Joseph who was more connected to the old ways, Joseph who had grown up in a small shtetl of Lackenbach, where opportunities were scarce but Jewish law abounded”.

Fannie, Florence’s sister, had been at the Atlantic City hospital for two weeks.... expecting a baby ( on bed rest). She lost a baby the year before; carried to nearly full term.

Esther and Joseph had just lost their twenty-year-old daughter, Florence, in the ocean on a normal average day - out for a normal swim.
They didn’t want to risk telling Fannie. The grief and stress might cause losing another baby. They didn’t want to risk giving devastating news to Fannie with her fragile pregnancy.
Wow....it was a time of pause for personal contemplation.
I kept asking myself... “what might I have done?”
Perhaps I might have made a different choice?/!/? 🤔

This book taught me about love from others ‘loving perspectives’.

Once I started reading this book, knowing next to ‘nothing’.....I couldn’t stop reading.

I’m such a water person!!!
I admit my instant ‘desire attraction’ to this book was
both the ‘feelings’ of the book cover, and the title itself.

Have I mentioned that I swam a mile a day - 7 days a week during two pregnancies? including the ‘same day’ of giving birth? Twice!!.....with daughters four years apart in age.....
a morning mile swim; middle of the night births.
I love swimming... water... the ocean...
That said.... I had NO IDEA OF ANYTHING when I started this book! The setting itself is almost a character.

This was the ‘perfect-fit-read’ at the perfect time.
The sadness matched my own -connecting me authentically to another family.... dealing with loss, death, and grief. I can definitely relate - I felt comforted by being a part of this family during these unsettling coronavirus days!!

Did everyone make the right choices every step of the way?
Well, who does???
Did I like every character? It’s besides the point!

Responding to sudden tragic circumstances—does not come with a manual of instructions.
Reminding me to be forgiving of others and myself.

Life is filled with grief and pleasures. The Adler family in this novel is no different— but they are special - in the same way every family is special.

I really enjoyed this book .... with the little cliffhanger ending to think about too.

Themes deal with family issues, dealings with death, anti-semitism, and the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s in Altantic City.

The prose shines with love!
Tender, poignant, and courageous!!!

Thank you Netgalley, Simon and Schuster Publishing and Rachel Beanland
Profile Image for Liz.
2,023 reviews2,529 followers
May 30, 2020
This book throws its first loop at you within pages. A tragedy sets in motion a string of events, attempts to keep Fannie, Florence’s sister and on pregnancy bedrest, from finding out what happened.
This family saga is all about the characters. Everyone is suffering, from a variety of losses, not just the most recent. We, the readers, also become privy to each character’s secrets.
But for some reason, it took me a long time to connect with any of the characters. The book alternates between their POVs. In the beginning, they felt flat, despite all their various problems. I pitied them, but found it difficult to think of them as real people, despite the book being based in a true story. As the book goes on, Beanland gets more things right, like how often sadness and grief get expressed as anger towards others. The characters began to grow on me. I know all too well what it’s like to have a disappointment for a son-in-law, so I appreciated what Joseph was going through. While I didn’t care for Esther, she had the one thought that hit me the hardest. “This, she realized, was what it felt like to grow old. Eventually people felt so weighed down by the yoke of their own bad decisions that they could scarcely move.”
Beanland does a better job of presenting us with a complete picture of the place and times. The cavalier prejudice of the times is seen on both the personal and political level. And to think that babies in incubators were treated like circus attractions and put on display!
As others have mentioned, the ending is just a little too neat. But it makes for a good decent summer read. In the end, I’m assigning this a 3.5 star rating, rounded up.
My thanks to netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,175 reviews615 followers
January 12, 2021
It's 1934 and Joseph and Esther Adler have rented out their house in Atlantic City for the summer and moved into the small apartment above their bakery. Their daughter Florence is back from college but spends most of her time at the beach with her coach Stuart, training to swim the English Channel at the end of the summer.

This year they also have two additional guests staying with them which makes the small apartment feel even more crowded. Florence's married sister Fannie is in the seventh month of her pregnancy and due to her high blood pressure has been confined to a hospital bed until she delivers, so her seven year old daughter Gussie is spending the summer with Joseph and Esther leaving Fannie's husband Isaac to look after himself. Joseph has also helped Anna, a girl from a Jewish German family caught up in Hitler's regime, acquire a student visa to study in America. With nowhere else to go, she is also staying with them until college starts, much to Esther's disdain. Joseph was a childhood friend of Anna's mother, but Esther feels there is more to the relationship than that.

The novel opens with the tragic death of a much loved family member. Concerned that Fannie lost a previous baby late in pregnancy, Esther is adamant that she should not be told until the baby is safely delivered. This would prove difficult to do with everyone trying to hide their own grief, especially with Fannie questioning why that person didn't call or visit. Young Gussie, a sharp if somewhat pampered child has always been told the importance of telling the truth, so Esther is concerned she'll let something slip when asked a direct question.

The family dynamics are what holds this novel together. There is the antipathy that Esther and Joseph have for their son-in-law Isaac, who becomes more interested in his quick rich schemes than caring for Gussie or Fannie as Fannie's pregnancy progresses. There is also Anna's uncomfortable position in the household, and her concern that Joseph's efforts to sponsor her parents to emigrate to America keep being knocked back. Through it all the perceptive Gussie sees everything that is going on and knows everyone's secrets.

This is a beautifully written debut book. A little slow to get into (after the dramatic opening chapter), but with a lot of rich historical detail of the period and place. I was also interested to learn in the the afternotes that the story is based on real events that happened to the author's family.

With thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia and Netgalley for a copy to read
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,125 reviews30.2k followers
October 1, 2020
I absolutely loved this story. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Thank you to Simon Books for the gifted copy.

Florence Adler Swims Forever was the perfect book to end summer with. Set in Atlantic City just before World War II, I loved so much about this dear story. If you haven’t heard the premise, the character in the title dies, and her family keeps her death a secret from her sister who is on bed rest with a high risk pregnancy. This premise might sound outlandish to some, but in my family, I could completely see this happening. My parents, to this day, view their role as protectors, first and foremost.

The structure held my interest as I was able to hear from each of the character’s perspectives. It added depth and insight to the story, and the characters were fully developed as a result.

Florence Adler is well-told and as emotional as you would expect it to be. The ending was different than I was hoping for in some ways, while it delivered well in so many others. I enjoyed the author’s note and learning how the story connected to her own family. Rachel Beanland, I look forward to your next book! I went to grad school at the University of South Carolina, and it was fun to read a book from a fellow alum. ❤

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Michelle.
603 reviews457 followers
July 8, 2020
4.5 that I’m rounding up.

I don't quite know what is holding me back from giving this five stars, but I suspect with some time I will come back and adjust it up. This was a beautifully written and executed book and will be in my top books of the year post for sure. I loved the family saga aspect, I loved the characters (even the jerks), I loved the time period and most of all, I loved how this one felt. It was a story that got me right there. I don't even want to put anything regarding the summary in here because I went in blind and I felt like that worked well for me.

If you're looking for one of those books that you feel a hangover from after reading it - this is it. I cannot urge you enough to read it and find out for yourself what a talented writer and storyteller, Rachel Beanland is.

Thank you to Netgalley, Simon and Schuster and Rachel Beanland for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review.

Review Date: 07/08/2020
Publication Date: 07/07/2020
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,467 reviews564 followers
August 7, 2021
[2.8] The best part of this novel is the setting - summer in 1934 Atlantic City. The large cast of characters and the premise had potential but the execution felt lifeless - and somewhat trite. I was happy to reach the end.
Profile Image for Olive Fellows (abookolive).
584 reviews4,724 followers
July 8, 2020
I'd heard some good buzz about this one, so I decided to see what the fuss was about and...wow. This was really impressive!

It's the summer of 1934 in Atlantic City, NJ and a tragedy strikes a Jewish family. The rest of the book happens in the aftermath of this incident and we see how the news is kept from one of the daughters who is on bedrest for the final two months of her risky pregnancy. Meanwhile, a young German woman is staying with the family, trying to find a way to get her Jewish parents out of an increasingly hostile country. The book takes place over three months and we hear from seven characters - all either members of this family or directly adjacent to it - exactly three times - once for every month of the summer.

Not only is this book expertly organized (the order in which we hear from the seven characters is EXACTLY the same in all three sections - that's no easy feat), but the author took what would have been the climax in any other novel and put it in the very first chapter. It felt like a comedian starting their set with their best joke - you screw yourself over to see if you can rise to the challenge. Rachel Beanland really did that in this book. It is tender as it is sorrowful and the feeling of the beach is really there with you. Plus, the interesting link between all the characters in their feelings of being beholden to someone else made them all feel part of the same story even when they all were choosing radically different paths. The author took elements of her own family's story and morphed it into a beachy read with an ocean's worth of depth.
Profile Image for Samantha.
1,677 reviews83 followers
July 8, 2020
It’s not every day that you come across a book where the title character dies immediately at the start of the story, so I was hoping this would mean I was in for something truly original and riveting.

Unfortunately, after the initial stunner, it’s a book in which very little happens at all.

Beanland writes well and I enjoyed her portrait of the era’s Atlantic City (though I wish there had been more of this and less empty dialogue), but the book mostly runs high on tension and low on payoff.

I suppose this will be called a family saga, but saga feels like too big a word. It’s a little story, a microcosm of one family’s experience. Which is fine, except that said experience is largely flat and punctuated by the characters’ poor choices and relentless self doubt.

After the death of the title character, her family makes a controversial decision around which much of the plot is centered. Most of the narrative seems to laud the decision as heroic or at least correct, and the author’s note (the book is based on a true story) seems to further lionize the choice. Personally, I was appalled by it. I understand the thought process behind it and certainly the intentions were good, but ethically I just thought it was gross.

The ending also frustrates. While it is, I suppose, a relatively happy one, we are left without knowing the reaction of the character whom the above dramatics revolve around when she finds out what her family chose to do.

The story of Anna and her connection to the family was more interesting than the central drama, so I wish the focus had been more on that. And again, we get little true resolution in the end.

Conceptually, this book had potential, but it suffers from the same issue that plagues many novels that are based on a true story (especially one that is personally connected to the author): Sometimes the truth ain’t stranger than fiction, and the ordinary rarely makes for a good novel.

*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,340 reviews699 followers
July 16, 2020
“Florence Adler Swims Forever” by Rachel Beanland is a novel that stirs emotions. Our title character drowns at the beginning of the story. There are seven-character perspectives; all but two are family members. Each deal with the drowning in different ways. Florence’s mother, Esther, decides to keep the death a secret. Why? Because Florence’s older pregnant sister is in the hospital on bedrest after losing a baby a year ago. Esther doesn’t want to upset Fannie.

Fannie’s seven-year-old daughter, Gussie, is staying with her grandparents while her mom is on bedrest. Gussie loved Florence in all the ways a seven-year-old can. Gussie is adorable and adds brightness to the story. Because she’s a tad willful and outspoken, Esther is afraid to let Gussie visit her mother. She eventually caves, and that hospital scene is hilarious.

The story takes place in 1934 Atlantic City. Beanland does a fantastic job portraying Atlantic City during that time. I felt like I was there, on the boardwalk or on the beach.

In the beginning, I was not a fan of Esther. She seemed cold and indifferent. Beanland develops her character well, and at the middle my heart loosened. I understood her. She is complex and appears unnecessarily formidable. I became to realize that in 1934, people didn’t share every emotional issue that is predominate in our current culture. Secrets were kept; family didn’t involve others in their private business. Keeping a secret like that is impossible now, with our media culture. But in 1934, it could happen.

I’m not going to go into all the other characters. Each has a purpose. And it’s more than just a family saga of keeping that particular secret. Every character has a secret (don’t we all). Beanland includes the plight of Jewish people at that time, with hotels excluding Jews. She also writes of the immigration difficulties of Jewish people trying to leave Nazi Germany.

At the end of the novel, Beanland writes that this is based on what happened to her Great-Great Aunt also named Florence. She drowned right before planning to swim the English Channel, just like this Florence Adler. I do love stories that are based upon some family history.

I’ve read critics say that there are flaws in her characters and their motivations. I didn’t find that to be a distracting problem. I enjoyed this one, flaws and all.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,098 reviews2,665 followers
January 26, 2021
It was 1934 in Atlantic City, and Florence Adler was in training to swim the English Channel. Her coach Stuart had persuaded her to wait for another year as the media coverage and training would help Florence considerably. So the time to depart was getting closer. On the day Florence was at the beach with her niece Gussie and new boarder Anna, recently arrived from Nazi Germany, plus her parents, Joseph and Esther, they were all having a lovely time. As Florence headed off for another training swim, Gussie could see her bright swimming cap shining like a beacon as she cut through the waves.

Fannie, Esther and Joseph’s eldest daughter (seven years older than Florence) was in hospital under strict bed rest for the last two months of her pregnancy. The previous year she and her husband Isaac had lost their three-week-old baby boy through complications, and the doctors were determined to have Fannie go to term. But when tragedy occurred, Esther told the family Fannie wasn’t to hear about it. So began a web of secrets and lies that put stress and tension on the whole family.

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland is based on the true story of the author’s great-great-aunt. The Author’s Note at the end of the book is extremely interesting and well worth reading. I enjoyed the novel very much and find it hard to believe it’s the author’s debut, as it’s very polished. I found the majority of the characters likeable – in particular Gussie, Stuart and Anna – but there was one person I couldn’t like – but I’m sure that’s how I was supposed to feel! Florence Adler Swims Forever is a novel I can highly recommended.

With thanks to Simon & Schuster AU for my uncorrected proof ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Vonda.
318 reviews109 followers
February 9, 2020
What a sweet story! I was a bit aghast when the tragic event happens at the very beginning! Now what? Where is it going to go? We have secrets, a risky pregnancy, coping with grief, new romances *breathe*. So much happened I was kept enthralled. Set in 1934 Atlantic City the settings were spot on. The writing made you feel as if you were there breathing the ocean air along with the Adler family. Just an old fashioned enjoyable story.
Profile Image for Sue.
1,242 reviews533 followers
July 30, 2020
This debut novel, from the view points of seven people closely involved in the daily life of the Adler family of Atlantic City in the summer of 1934, is a quiet but ultimately effective story well told. Interestingly, the story is based in fact.

One member is the titular Florence Adler, a distance swimmer we meet in the first chapter and who becomes the centerpiece of the rest of the novel. The unspoken subject of the novel is the power, the dangers, the unspoken ills of secrets over time. This is a story of one family tragedy that results in decisions that seem odd. Esther and Jacob are the parents of this family and when tragedy strikes, she decides that it must be kept from her daughter Fannie, currently on bed rest in the hospital with a high risk pregnancy. Esther is a force of nature.

Perhaps the most wonderful character of all is seven year old Gussie. Seeing the world through her eyes was a delight; and also felt right. Her father, Isaac, Fannie’s husband, was not a delight. I haven’t seen a villain like him for a while but he was still a person. There is much discussion of the difficulty had by Jews in Europe attempting to emigrate to the United States as Hitler increased his power and all Jewish people were marginalized in areas under German influence. There is also detail on Jewish traditions celebrated by the family.

All in all, this was an enjoyable, interesting reading experience, an excellent break from heavier tomes and my usual mysteries. I do recommend it

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lisa Wolf.
1,619 reviews177 followers
August 2, 2020
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to divulge something that happens in the very first chapter, is it?

When I picked up Florence Adler Swims Forever, my expectation was that the main story line would focus on Florence and her training to swim the English Channel. Wouldn’t you think so, based on the title, the cover, and the synopsis? Well, if so, you’d be as misled as I was.

While the opening chapter is about a day at the beach, as told by 7-year-old Gussie, who adores her aunt Florence, by the end of the chapter, Florence has drowned. She’s pulled lifeless from the ocean where she went for just her typical long swims, and despite heroic efforts by the beach lifeguards, Florence is beyond saving.

Florence’s sister Fannie is hospitalized on bedrest with a high-risk pregnancy, and doctors warn that any stress or upset might cause Fannie to lose the baby. Their mother Esther decides on a plan: They will keep Florence’s death quiet, keep all announcements out of the papers, have a private family burial — and will not tell Fannie that her only sister has died.

Fannie and Florence had quarreled right before the books opens, and Fannie is left to believe that Florence is still angry at her, not communicating or visiting with her sister before leaving for France to start her big swim. The family brings the nurses and doctors of the maternity ward into the circle of secrecy, and by moving her to a private room and limiting her access to news of the outside world, they’re able to keep Fannie in the dark for the remaining months of her pregnancy.

Meanwhile, the Adler family must struggle through their private grief, running a successful bakery business, dealing with an untrustworthy son-in-law, and hosting Anna, a European refugee with a connection to Esther’s husband Joseph, who’s desperate to find a way to get her parents out of Germany before it’s too late.

This book has so much going for it. The Altantic City of 1934 setting is a wonder, showcasing life in that particular time and place with attention to detail and evocative descriptions. The beach environment, the ritzy hotels, the large Jewish community all feel vibrant and alive, as do the people themselves, with their relationships, their struggles for success, the aftermath of the Depression and the rising tensions about the increasingly desperate plight of the Jews in Europe.

Through small moments, such as characters discussing the price of bread or going to a restaurant for a business meetings, we get an idea of the economics of the time, as well as the chasms between haves and have-nots. We also get a good picture of Atlantic City development, and the lingering anti-Semitism that pervades even a location with such a large Jewish population.

There are also some truly eye-popping moments. For example, did you know that up through the end of the 1930s, premature babies in incubators were displayed as sideshow attractions at World’s Fairs and along the boardwalk? It’s true! I couldn’t believe it when the scene was described in this book, but yup — I had to stop and Google it, and discovered that this was how incubator technology was established before being adopted as standard medical procedure, and that thousands of premature babies were saved through these exhibits. Crazy, right?

The subplot about Anna’s parents is sad and scary and eye-opening as well. We all know what happened to German Jews as Hitler rose to power, and it’s heart-breaking to get this view of the practically impossible steps that friends and relatives had to go through in order to try to secure visas for their loved ones. Without money or political connection, there was basically no chance. We really feel Anna’s anguish and frustration as she keeps attempting to rescue her parents, only to find the bar moved higher every time she approaches the stated goal.

While the Adler family’s story is compelling and I loved the historical setting, there are just a few elements that left me wanting more. There a romance that develops over the summer showcased in this story, and I just couldn’t feel it. I never truly felt the connection between the characters, so it was hard to buy into their love story and its outcome.

Likewise, we’re told that the hotel mentioned in the synopsis is well known for anti-Semitic policies, but we don’t actually see that demonstrated. The owner, who’s the father of one of the POV characters, is supposed to be nasty and ruthless, but again, I didn’t truly get that from his portrayal.

Florence Adler Swims Forever takes place over the summer months following Florence’s death. The ending left me wanting more. I’ll be vague here (no more spoilers!), but I felt pretty cheated by not getting to see a particular scene I had assumed would be included. I’d also hoped to get a definite answer about Anna’s parents and whether they’d be rescued, but because the story ends where it does, that remains an unknown.

I will say that the author’s notes at the end are illuminating, as they help to ground the events of the story, which may come across as far-fetched in places, in her own family’s history.

All in all, I found Florence Adler Swims Forever to be a compelling, absorbing read, despite feeling like I needed a little more from the characters and the story as a whole to move this into 5-star territory. Still, I definitely recommend this book, and can see it being a great book group choice as well — there’s so much to think about and discuss.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
754 reviews39 followers
July 7, 2020
Atlantic City- 1934.

This book is about a family, the Adlers, who very soon into the book, are hit by a tragedy- a horrible, life altering tragedy. A decision is made to keep this news secret to protect a fragile member of the family. (Trying to not give spoilers).

We see different POV’s as each person affected by this tragedy copes with the loss and the secret. I liked getting to know each person on their own- we learn some of their back history. The author managed to develop each character fully. The highlight was 7 yr old Gussie, who stole the show whenever she was around.

It took me a little while to get into this book, as initially everything and everyone felt flat. As I kept reading, I became totally invested in all their lives.

This was 1934- anti- Semitism was alive and thriving in the United States. How this affected the Adlers, who were Jewish, was an important aspect of the story.

I feel the ending could have been improved. There was a “happy ending” but there was also an unfinished ending, in my opinion.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book. I loved knowing that the Florence of the title was a real character.

My thanks to Netgalley, Simon and Schuster and Rachel Beanland for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kerrin .
293 reviews230 followers
July 7, 2020
***Now Available!***

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland is a family saga that is told in a unique way. The book is divided into three parts: June 1934, July 1934, and August 1934. The summer begins with Florence Adler returning home from Wellesley College to prepare herself to swim the English Channel. Then there is a shocking tragedy. The Adler family, along with a young German refugee and a swim coach/lifeguard spend the rest of the summer dealing with grief, loyalty, a risky pregnancy, romance, a bad marriage, and the weight of keeping a secret.

See my Full Review at http://booksandrecipes.com/florence-a... and also check out my recipe for Blueberry Pecan Rugelach.

5-stars. Book Club Recommended. Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for my advanced reader copy of Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland.
Profile Image for Holly R W.
342 reviews33 followers
May 24, 2023
What would you do as a parent if you had a daughter with a high risk pregnancy, after having suffered the loss of a newborn baby the year before? Would you tell her that her younger sister, age 19, just died in a drowning accident? The Adlers, Esther and Joseph, decide not to let their daughter Fannie know what has happened to her sister, Florence. The story looks at how their snap decision affects them all, including their young granddaughter, son-in-law, and the man who had been in love with Florence. Another important person in the story is Anna. She is temporarily living with the Adlers due to having fled Germany, as Hitler's control is rising.

While reading the book, I could easily picture this as a movie. We get to know all of the characters and see the situation from their unique points of view. This is an affluent Jewish family living in Atlantic City in 1934. What is happening in Europe to Jewish families comes out in Anna's story. The Adlers can not help but be concerned. We also witness the parents' unease with Florence's friend Stuart, who himself is not Jewish. He had adored their daughter and shared her interest in competitive swimming.

Having played the board game Monopoly many times through the years, I was very interested in the author's descriptions of Atlantic City. It was a thriving resort community. The boardwalk, its hotels and the Atlantic ocean are beautifully described. As other reviewers here have said, we experience the gulls, the beach and the waves. The water in its many moods becomes a character in itself.

Throughout the book, I quietly argued with the parents' decision. They thought they were safeguarding their surviving daughter by withholding information about Florence's death. I would have informed her. I'll leave it up to other readers as to how they themselves would decide. As it turns out, this situation actually happened in the author's own family.
Profile Image for MicheleReader.
709 reviews126 followers
July 8, 2020
This moving story takes place in 1934 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We meet Florence Adler as she is preparing to swim the English Channel. Her sister Fannie is pregnant and in the hospital on bed rest. Fannie’s husband Isaac is a distant and irresponsible dreamer so their daughter Gussie is being cared for by her parents - Esther and Joseph Adler. The Adlers have also recently welcomed Anna into their home, a 19 year old refugee they have sponsored to come to the United States to escape the growing anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe as Hitler continues to rise in power. Swimming coach and lifeguard Stuart is befriended by the family despite his father’s ownership of a leading Atlantic City hotel which is restricted - Jews and people of color are not welcome.

When the Adler family experiences a horrific loss, they must find a way to go on. It is decided that Fannie cannot be told about the recent tragedy as it might jeopardize her pregnancy. Gussie, who is wise beyond her years, has to also keep the secret from her mother.

Florence Adler Swims Forever transports the reader to this pre-World War II period and does a fine job describing how Atlantic City was at the time. It was easy to connect to the Adler family and feel their pain. We can all relate to loss and the unrelenting love of a parent. The story is based on the author’s family which makes the book even more powerful – be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end.

Many thanks to Edelweiss, Simon & Schuster and author Rachel Beanland for an advance copy of this impressive debut novel.

Be sure to hit the beach with Florence Adler Swims Forever.

Review posted on MicheleReader.com.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,348 reviews527 followers
June 26, 2020
After reading "Fast Girls" by Elise Hooper, this book seemed to plod along. Florence dies early on and I struggled to find the other characters likable. Gussie ultimately was my favorite. What greatly improved my book experience was the author's note at the end! I wish I had read or viewed an interview with Rachel Beanland before reading. Her thoughts connected me to the story in ways that the narrative failed to do. This would make a fantastic book group selection as the story brims with issues to discuss: immigration, marriage, adulting, ethnic pride, death, and on and on. . . This is the type of historical fiction read that makes you ponder your own piece of the world in a way books with a broader history focus often do not. Also, kudos for a fantastic cover!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Karren  Sandercock .
772 reviews151 followers
November 15, 2020
Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent out their house to holiday makers and move into the small apartment above their successful Atlantic City bakery. They had no idea that the summer of 1934 would go from one of excited anticipation and to one of incredible sadness.

Esther and Joseph have two daughters Fannie and Florence. Fannie is married to Isaac Feldman; they have a seven year old daughter Gussie, Fannie’s pregnant and in hospital on strict bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy. Florence has returned from college, she’s going to spend the summer in training and she has plans to swim the English Channel in a couple of month’s time. Staying with the Adler’s is a German student Anna Epstein, Joseph has sponsored her stay in America, so many Jewish Germans are desperately wanting to leave Germany, Esther isn’t happy about the arrangement and she thinks her husband is hiding something?
Florence is training when tragedy strikes, she drowns and Esther makes the decision not to tell Fannie about her sister passing away until she's had her baby. This is the start of an elaborate lie, it’s extremely hard to keep Florence’s death a secret and it causes tension in the family and at a time when they should be grieving and could it tear the entire family apart?

Three generations of the Adler’s family struggle with heartbreaking loss, Florence’s and her little nephew who died the year before Fannie’s high risk pregnancy. The most thought provoking aspect of the book was how Esther a sensible, loving, caring mother made the choice she did, was it the right one not to tell Fannie about Florence dying and did it make her seem cold, unfeeling and distant to other members of her family? Based on real facts, Florence Adler Swims Forever is a book that will make you feel a variety of emotions and it will make you think about life, love, family, choices and loss. I received a copy of this book in exchange for and honest review and five stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Mary.
1,474 reviews495 followers
July 16, 2020
Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland is a complex family drama that you can't even tell is a debut. I loved Beanland's writing style, and the fact that this book is based on a true story made it even more memorable. I highly recommend making sure you read the author's note at the back since it was very helpful and moving.

This book is told from many different viewpoints and I really liked every single one of them. The pacing is slower, but thanks to the multiple POVs I felt like it moved pretty quickly. Florence Adler Swims Forever is easily the type of novel that could provide you with a book hangover, and I just love how Beanland's imagery and storytelling made me feel like I was right THERE. It also really opened my eyes to what it was like to be a Jew in this time period.

I am a huge fan of historical fiction and if you are a fan of the genre I would definitely recommend reading this. Not only is it based on a true story, but it also felt very informative. I loved the setting, the writing, and most of the characters, plus I even loved the ending. It is clear to me that Beanland is incredibly talented and I can't wait to read whatever she writes next!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance review copy of this book, all opinions and thoughts are my own.
Profile Image for Jill.
1,168 reviews1,642 followers
August 1, 2020
I must admit to a bit of reluctance before diving into Fannie Adler Swims Forever. There are, after all, many books that are set on the eve of the Depression and the start of Germany’s Third Reich—so many that it is easy for one more to be derivative.

But Florence Adler won me over and I think because it is so achingly real and the acts of sacrifice are so heart-rendering. It is not a spoiler to say that the eponymous title heroine does not last more than 12 pages. Florence is a competitive swimmer with a dream: to swim the English Channel. Inexplicably, she drowns while training, and the rest of the book focuses on how the family tries to keep her death a secret from her older sister Fannie who is confined to the hospital because of a difficult pregnancy.

Rachel Beanland weaves in a lot of small details of the mid-1930s that capture the era: a very pregnant mother-to-be sharing a cigarette with her nurse or thinking back to another childbirth where she was tethered to the table and placed into an ether-induced twilight sleep. Fannie’s husband Isaac – of dubious moral fiber – chases the “get rich quick” American dream in the Florida home boom-and-bust following the Great Depression. Anna, the daughter of a woman Florence and Fannie’s father knew back in Hungary, strives to help her parents flee the Nazis and we learn about the despicable red-tape that the Americans were also complicit in allowing. Other characters, such as Fannie’s seven-year-old daughter Gussie, and Stuart, the disenchanted heir to his anti-Semitic father’s grand hotel, leap from the pages as well.

This is a gentle book of secret-keeping and lies that obfuscate an important truth: that sometimes, lies are important when the goal is to protect those we love. This debut author has written a page-turner and the fact that the story is actually based on a true family story is remarkable. You can almost smell the Atlantic City salt air and glimpse the mirage of Florence swimming out to sea with confident breast strokes. A big thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sheena.
601 reviews264 followers
November 11, 2020
Florence Adler swims forever is such a sad title when you actually realize the real meaning behind it. A death happens in the beginning of this story and it opens up to how a family copes with it. They decide not to tell Fannie who is in a high risk pregnancy and could lose the baby if she finds out of this death. I understand what this family was trying to do but wow, I was stressed for everyone trying to hide this secret. I also think if I was in Fannie’s situation I would be so upset if my family hid from me that my sister died! Not much else happens after this event takes place so I found myself losing interest quickly. I thought the authors note explaining that this was based off her family story made this feel more surreal.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Simon & Shuster for the copy of this book!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Celia.
1,193 reviews153 followers
May 14, 2020
I am IN LOVE with this book.

It is great historical fiction as it describes Atlantic City in 1934. The writing is so perfect that I thought I was there. I also learned some things about Florida in the 1920’s. I lived in NJ for 20 years and am now living in FL. I cannot get enough of this type of story. Rachel, I encourage you to write more. I'll be there to read and review them.

There is love and tragedy in this book. The people are human. They do not handle everything well. But I have a soft spot in my heart for most of them.

The story retells 3 months of the lives of the Adler family and is told from their viewpoint. I love stories told this way. The reader shares in the thoughts of 7 people in June, July and August of 1934. I found it interesting that in each of the months, the 7 talked in exactly the same order. Note that they are not all Adlers; one is a friend of the family; but you know what I mean!!

I plan to recommend this book to all my reading friends and book clubs. If any of my book clubs decide to select it, I will read it again.

(Received from Netgalley: Will be published July 7)

5 stars (6 if I could)
Profile Image for Sterlingcindysu.
1,342 reviews48 followers
January 9, 2021
A great debut!

We all love twists at the end of books...but there's a big twist right at the beginning of this book. I kept thinking, now this writer has an imagination! Then at the end it's revealed that this was a true story from her family's past.

Book clubs will love discussing if they would do what Esther did. A great beach read.

Lots of information about Atlantic City's heyday, around 1925-26. Monopoly hadn't yet been invented (1935) but lots of street names are mentioned. Did you know incubators (with babies inside) were a boardwalk attraction? And hotels featured baby cages...


And let's not forget the attractive bathing costumes of the day...which sold for $3.

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