Cover Image: The Swimmers

The Swimmers

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Member Reviews

I love this author. She has a very unusual writing style. In this one, which may be somewhat autobiographical, the main character is experiencing dementia. And the narrators are third parties, including the daughter of the main character. It's very short. And beautifully written. And I appreciate the fact that it's told in an unusual manner.
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5 Stars

I am grateful to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review.

Tears were shed during the reading of this book.

Julie Otsuka is proving to be a consistently powerful author. This story was amazing, form the setup to the structure. This story was told in a very unique combination of normal linear prose, poetry, and some more experimental styles. The story of the pool and it's parallels to life in general is beautifully realized and proves to be one of the more interesting ways to introduce characters that I've ever read. The following story is emotional and heartbreaking, and is told in such an artful way that the impact is even greater.

This is a story of a single life, and the history of many people at the same time. It speaks about love, loss, family, and belonging. It elaborates on the different relationships people have with each other and the different ways these feelings manifest. This is a slow and quiet story about memory and connection, and the love between a mother and daughter. It was all so beautiful, and all fit onto so few pages.

I recommend this to readers of historical fiction and cultural stories.
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I started reading this without even skimming through the book's description. I have read Julie Otsuka's novels before and I am a fan, so I trusted her. At first, I thought it was going to be about the swimming pool and its swimmers. I enjoyed that part quite a bit. Then the story took a turn to focus on Alice, one of the swimmers, and her daughter. It was beautiful and heartbreaking, and quite honestly, completely unexpected that it hurt.
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Like Julie Otsuka's previous books - her 2002 debut novel, When the Emperor was Divine, which dealt with Japanese American internment during World War II, and her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic (2011), about Japanese picture brides, The Swimmers is bound to be an instant classic. It's important to note, however, that this novel definitely differs from her previous efforts. It is a more personal and intimate story, which should be obvious even in the fact that the characters are named and have very specific histories. Still, this has the same unique storytelling flair that characterizes Otsuka's other memorable novels.
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This book is a tiny love letter to those lap swimmers in the local YMCA or public pool. As a lap swimmer myself, reading this book is like a chlorinated hug for those of us who love the daily ritual of diving in and following the pool lines back and forth. The Swimmers is poetic, engrossing, and just about perfect. My favorite read this fall.
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I actually really like this book about a mother and daughter relationship.  This book starts with a mother who consoles  herself with swimming.  When her displacement activity is taken from her, she focuses on her relationships.  I really enjoyed the story.
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