I could not get into this book. I tried and tried but it was so repetitive and slow. I could not relate to the characters and could not get into the story as I didn't understand where it was going.
For me, this novel was a bit hard to stick with. I think there is a great deal of symbolism in the novel, especially relating to the crack that appears in the swimming pool (change in life and circumstances?), but I hard a hard time connecting until the second half of the story. The writer style is quite different, which may have contributed to my lack of connection, Overall, this was just "ok" for me. Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing a digital ARC for review.
I struggled with this book. I didn’t like the format and style of writing. It felt very impersonable and disjointed. Hard to connect with any characters. I ended up scrolling very quickly through the pages to try to find some story to connect to.
Thanks Netgalley for the ARC.
Award-winning and best-selling author Julie Otsuka returns with a new book, The Swimmers. Going to the pool for exercise, classes, or general fun brings a community together. When a crack forms and the pool is closed, Alice's routine is disrupted. Hiding her debilitating illness, she is unmoored by the disruption. A tale of family and loss in Julie Otsuka's The Swimmers.
This book seems to be cut into two parts. The first part of the story focuses on the swimmers. A group that routinely exercises at their community pool. We read details about each character, why they are there, and how camaraderie forms between them. They almost alienate their friends and family with their routine. When a crack forms in the pool it threatens this routine. Otsuka seems to turn this into a metaphor for Covid. Covid has also disrupted communities and left people disconnected. Alice has relied on her routine and she is also quickly disoriented. We then follow her story as a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is given. We watch her slow decline, eventually, she needs full-time care in a memory facility. Her daughter seems to narrate the entirety of the tale. In a bit of autofiction, we see personal events and guilt by her daughter.
Ultimately a loving story about the end of a mother's life as told by her daughter.
Special thanks to Knopf Doubleday and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.
I really loved this book though it was heartbreaking for me to read because my mother had dementia. The author does a GREAT job of taking the reader through the early signs of dementia to the nursing home. Their were a lot of lists in this book but I like a little something different.
Although this book was heartbreaking at times it is a MUST READ for anyone dealing with a family member, friend, etc who has or had a person in their life with dementia. 5 stars bc it hit so close to home with me.
This book shows how much community means to people. All of the individuals especially Alice love the pool and what it means to them. When the pool is closed for a crack everyone feels so alone and not knowing what they will do next. They all have a bond. Alice is dealing with dementia and her daughter helps out. Dementia is a topic that people need to read about and gain knowledge and wisdom about. This was a really good book.
Otsuko’s book is remarkable because of her brilliant writing. The short choppy sentences and repetitive phrases might be off-putting in the hands of a less talented writer. But here we are entranced by the rarefied air of the prose. It creates an atmosphere and a mood of obsession as the devoted swimmers follow their routine in the pool. When a crack appears, the pool itself shows its vulnerability and the impact on the swimmers is jarring.
There are no characters’ physical descriptions, no typical personality traits provided but we get a sense of character through their actions. As the story moves to a different phase, we follow one of the swimmers as she suffers from a mental disorder. Her diminishing sense of self is starkly but lovingly rendered. Her life, like her beloved pool, is cracking.
The book’s style is different and may not appeal to all readers. True lovers of literature and of skillful writers who present their narrative in an extraordinary and unique way, will find so much to like in this novel.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC digital copy. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.
Being a past swimmer and lifelong reader, the premise of this book seemed like perfection!
I wish the book had been written either as a short story or a longer novel. I am unsure as to my reasons, but novels less than 300 pages tend to feel rushed to me.
Perhaps reading this again as a "summer afternoon in the hammock" will be a little more enjoyable.
4 out of 5 stars and my respect to the author.
The Swimmers is reminiscent of Buddha in the Attic, but updated. Telling the stories and challenges of the aging and the flow from an active life to one of dementia.
For anyone whose had a family member or someone close to them develop dementia, this novel feels devastating. The author does an amazing job walking the reader through the early signs, the moving into an assisted living facility, and the changes experienced as the disease progresses. It’s also a story of both friend and family relationships. The writing style is so well suited to this story, consisting of many lists and facts but ultimately, very readable. I would love to have the significance of the title explained…is it a metaphor for life?
Thanks to NetGalley and Alfred A Knopf Publishing for the e-copy to read and review.
An interesting tale about a group of people who have a routine of going swimming at the local swimming pool We get some information about them and about the pool itself. Some people are nothing, if not tied to a routine.
One day, one of them notices a crack in the bottom of the pool. This becomes a growing concern among the group, with a lot of speculation on what could be causing it. They all vow to keep an eye on it and start to wonder what would happen if it gets bigger. And, are they really safe?
The book starts off with us learning about the pool and the people who swim there, most of them on a daily basis. We learn their specific routines, how they are alike and different, what motivates them to swim, and about the pool itself. I really enjoyed getting to know the swimmers.
One day someone notices a tiny crack in the bottom of the pool, then more swimmers start to notice it and soon they are all keeping an eye on it to see if it looks like it might cause problems. There were some interesting thoughts about what caused the crack, what it means, and what would happen if it started getting bigger.
The heart of the story for me was Alice. She has dementia and the story focuses mainly on her and her daughter. I have a friend who has a young husband diagnosed with dementia and it is heartbreaking to see him and her go through their lives this way. It was good to read but hard at the same time.
Not the most thrilling book, but a strong enough plot to keep me interested.
I never imagined that such a short novel could pack such a punch! The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka does just that. This book appears to be about a pool that is no longer functional because of a crack forming in the bottom, but it is so much more than that! It is a story of the bonds of mothers and daughters, of the devastating effect that dementia has on both patient and caretaker, and love and loss. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced e-galley.
My heart. My heart! A quick read—a short novel bordering on novella territory—that packs a very strong punch, <i>The Swimmers</i> isn’t exactly what I was expecting, I don’t know what I was expecting, but I loved it so much. Broken up into five chapters, the first two chapters are lots of fun, detailing with strong prose the various lives of “the swimmers”, the ones who use the local pool, and why, and how it is so important to them-for all sorts of reasons. And a crack appears in the bottom of the pool, and eventually it is closed permanently.
From there we follow one of the swimmers, Alice, as she continues losing her memory and is admitted into a retirement home. It is gutting, this woman’s journey further and further into dementia, forgetting more with almost every day.
I’m not sure this entire book hangs together well; the first two chapters and last three chapters feel a bit disconnected, but I don’t think that really matters. What matters is the overall result, which is breathtaking and daring, like all great fiction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I really enjoyed this book. The direction went differently then I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. The 2nd person narration drew me in.
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
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.