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The First Rule of Swimming

A Novel

Courtney Angela Brkic

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


A woman must leave her island home to search for her missing sister-and confront the haunted history of her family.

Magdalena does not panic when she learns that her younger sister has disappeared. A free-spirit, Jadranka has always been prone to mysterious absences. But when weeks pass with no word, Magdalena leaves the isolated Croatian island where their family has always lived and sets off to New York to find her sister. Her search begins to unspool the dark history of their family, reaching back three generations to a country torn by war.

A haunting and sure-footed debut by an award-winning writer, The First Rule of Swimming explores the legacy of betrayal and loss in a place where beauty is fused inextricably with hardship, and where individuals are forced to make wrenching choices as they are swept up in the tides of history.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jul 01, 2013 – Two sisters from a remote Croatian island called Rosmarina form a core of family drama in this first novel from Brkic (Stillness). Magdalena, the elder sister and a schoolteacher, leads a Spartan, practically celibate life in her childhood room; while Jadranka is an unpredictable redhead who is starting to feel like "a fish that merely traveled the circumference of its bowl." When the sisters' American cousin Katarina unexpectedly invites Jadranka to live in New York City, several generations' worth of secrets begin to unravel: among them, what happened to the girls' long-presumed-dead Uncle Marin, and the uncertainty of Jadranka's parentage. Brkic handles the logistics of multi-generational intrigue adroitly, and her prose is thoughtful and careful, if overly restrained. The novel is underwhelming, however, as it doesn't begin to wield any emotional heft until the last 100 pages or so, when Jadranka's abrupt disappearance from Katarina's Manhattan apartment prompts her mother and sister to fly to NY to look for her. Brkic juggles too many perspectives and gets bogged down in back-story, when the present-day action and the fraught triangle between the sisters and their estranged mother Ana is what is most absorbing.
The First Rule of Swimming
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: May 28, 2013
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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