Cover Image: The Swimmers

The Swimmers

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Member Reviews

I chose this as a book club selection. I'm glad I read it but it was disjointed with the first half of the book being completely different from the second half. I suspect the author did this on purpose and I "get it" after the fact but wish we the readers could have come along for the ride during reading.
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Julie Otsuka has a uniquely compelling writing style, layering voices and experiences onto each other to create a collective voice that contains individual points of view. So, she doesn't just enumerate all the swimmers at the pool, but uses repetition and variation to amplify the sense of community. 

The second half turns to individuals with memory loss, and this is the section that makes it a masterpiece. The chapter encapsulating what it's like to live in a particular care home is brilliantly done. It's just amazing how she translates the grief and hope of families experiencing this with a loved one into prose that's impressionistic and deeply observant. 

I highly recommend this novel to folks who like literary fiction and beautiful prose.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although it took a while for me to get into it, the two halves really work well together and I truly appreciated and better understood everything from the first half of the book by the time I finished this wonderful novel.
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This was such an interesting book. It begins with such a lovely description of the pool as a community where everyone fits in, no matter who they are outside of the pool, providing rules, structure, and stability to the swimmers - especially  a swimmer named Alice. I found myself wondering and reading the first part of the book as if the pool were all of us and its crack was a stand-in for Covid or the fracture between us due to the political climate. Then the second part following the pool closure starts and it is a radical shift solely to focus on Alice. While it is still beautifully written, it is depressing as it lays out first the things that Alice does or doesn't remember, the horrific state of for-profit care centers, and finally Alice's daughter dealing with the final decline of her mother. The Swimmers is titled as a novel, but the writing is so visceral in its description of the different stages of loss that I can't help but feel that Ms. Otsuka has dealt with this in her own life. Thank you to Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I really enjoyed this book. The direction went differently then I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. The 2nd person narration drew me in.
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A short, simple yet moving prose. There are several narrators in the chapters. It begins with a group of people who dedicated their lives to a pool☺️. Some of them come there because they are injured, and need to heal. They were able to leave their troubles on land behind. Swimming is more than a pastime, it is passion, solace, addiction of choice, the one thing they look forward to more than anything else. When there is a crack begin to surface in the deep end of the pool, for the safety of swimmers and staff alike, the pool was permanently closed. 

Then the story focus on Alice, one of the regular swimmer in the neighborhood who retired and has frontotemporal dementia. I was kind of emotional about this chapter. The relationship between her family is quite touching. Don’t give up on me, she says when the days slip by and she begins to forget more and more. Her family decides to send her to a nursing home - Belavista. Belavista seems like a home, a Memory Team, a “second family.” Very poignant with a slow-paced. I give 4 ⭐️ 

Thanks to @netgalley and @aaknopf for providing an earc.

📚

#donereading #TheSwimmers by #JulieOtsuka #igreads #goodreads #ebookstagram #emabaca #malaysiamembaca
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A short and poignant story about far more than swimming. The first part of the novel describes an unlikely community of swimmers, and how they have created a sense of belonging together. Their community begins to deteriorate when a crack in the pool forms, and eventually they drift apart. The second part of the novel delves more deeply into the life of one of the swimmers, Alice. It's clear that Alice has memory loss and a deterioration of other cognitive functions, and this increases as the narrative progresses. It becomes a story of a mother and daughter that find themselves further and further separated by disease. While many will find this "too literary," it is clearly a well-written story of loss and grief. Not my personal favorite, but definitely one that will resonate with many readers.
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Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest opinion. 

I don’t think I was smart enough for this one. The crack in the pool was obviously a metaphor for something, but for what, I’m not sure. I didn’t get it! That being said, I enjoyed all BUT the pool section and felt like that part honestly belonged in another book. Some really heartbreaking and moving moments. I really enjoyed The Buddha in the Attic so expected to love this one too, but sadly it just didn’t quite click with me.
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I flew through this short book.  The first part of the book focuses on a group of swimmers and their reactions to a crack in the pool.  The second part of the book, which follows one of the swimmers through her dementia is heart-wrenching.  This book is beautifully-written and I'm still thinking about it, even as I move on to the next one on my list.
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The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka was at once a poetic piece of literature as well as a powerful metaphor about dementia. Otsuka has a definitive voice in that is recognizable in her work, much like a rhythmic cadence. 

This book is broken into three distinct parts, starting with the collective voice of we, that describes the multiple swimmers at the community pool. This moves onto the reactions of the swimmers after a crack is noticed in the pool. Some notice it and keep swimming, some notice it and obsess over it and others never even look. Remember folks, a crack in the foundation of a pool can be the beginning of the end of it.  

By part three, the story of Alice, the only character mentioned by name, becomes more intimate as her dementia is worsening. Through her daughter’s observations, the whole allegory of the pool and Alice comes together. Written with pure nuance and poignancy, this book will stay with you long after you read it.
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The Swimmers is a marvel. An odd, little novel that I knew nearly nothing about going in -- which is exactly how one should read this book. Delicious. 

Thanks to the publisher for the e-galley!
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This was a very interesting short read.  As someone who currently has a family member that is suffering with dementia, this book really hit close to home.
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This was a short, quick read, but it was in no way a superficial story. A group of swimmers gather at the local pool. They don't know much about each other, they interact very little, but they all share a love of the pool and swimming their laps. One day, a crack appears in the bottom of the pool and it leads to changes in all of their lives. Alice has been forgetting a lot lately, and her daughter has begun to worry about her. When she loses the ability to use the pool, she is shoved into a downward health spiral that will have lasting complications. This book was so good, so raw and emotional, and takes on a subject that so many of us will end up having to deal with or have already dealt with. I highly recommend this book.
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This book reads like a poem and is beautifully written. The first part talks about the community of swimmers and would speak to anyone who loves to swim. The second part explores the life and decline of Alice through her daughter's eyes. This beautiful and moving story will touch anyone who has experienced the affects of dementia in a loved one.
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Moving, beautiful and just so brilliant. What starts as a lovely story of a community, of the bond of strangers at an underground swimming pool, becomes a devastating portrayal of one swimmer Alice, and her progressive dementia. It’s a unique way to tell an all-too-familiar story of this terrible condition that slowly steals our loved ones from us. 
The rhythmic writing is so clever, each part using repetition in such an effective way, the ‘we’ of the swimmers, what ‘she’ remembers, what ‘it’ (a mysterious crack in the pool) means… and the scathing satire of nursing home, telling ‘you’ everything to expect.
Definitely right book, right time, right reader. I was blown away by it. As a swimmer, I was captivated from the beginning, and as a daughter of mother with early onset, who no longer knows who she is, I could not relate more to Alice and her daughter’s story.
A Wow read…..
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I’m honestly not sure how I feel about The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka. On one hand I was compelled to keep reading until the end, but on the other, I wanted there to be  more to the book. What starts out as a book about swimmers (who you really never get to know by name), becomes a book about an aging parent’s journey with dementia. The book is written oddly and you never know anyone’s name except for Alice. A few others are mentioned but not with any event by which to remember them, so it was a bit confusing at times as well. I mostly wanted more in the way of characters and their stories.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy.
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DNF, Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book. I loved the way it was written but also started to get bored without any thread of action.
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The Swimmers is a wonderful book by Julie Otsuka. I am somewhat biased as she is one of my favorite authors, able to convey so many ideas and feelings with so much elegance and economy of language. This is a story about habit, about community, about Alzheimer's and about life. Highly recommended.
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Once a decade we are treated to a perfect book by Julie Otsuka. I did not predict the turn this would take, and it was beautiful and heartbreaking. I have the urge to swim.
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This was my first Julie Otsuka book. I was drawn to it because I was a swimmer. When this book began I was immediately connected with it. How particular swimmers can be. I was fascinated by all the communication between the swimming pool members. When a crack formed at the bottom of the pool it really brought chaos. This book then began a much deeper story about a relationship between a mother and daughter and the heartache of dementia and Alzheimer's. This book was beautifully written. Very lyrical in its descriptions.
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