Description from Goodreads: People go traveling for two reasons: because they are searching for something, or they are running from something. Katie’s world is shattered by the news that her headstrong and bohemian younger sister, Mia, has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Bali. The authorities say that Mia jumped—that her death was a suicide.
Although they’d hardly spoken to each other since Mia suddenly left on an around-the-world trip six months earlier, Katie refuses to accept that her sister would have taken her own life. Distraught that they never made peace, Katie leaves her orderly, sheltered life in London behind and embarks on a journey to find out the truth. With only the entries in Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life and—page by page, country by country—begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.
Weaving together the exotic settings and suspenseful twists of Alex Garland’s The Beach with a powerful tale of familial love in the spirit of Rosamund Lupton’s Sister, Swimming at Night is a fast-paced, accomplished, and gripping debut novel of secrets, loss, and forgiveness.
Every now and then a book comes along that just makes you feel all the feels and really lose yourself in the narrative. It’s very difficult for me to find books like this as I am so damn picky these days. But this book. THIS BOOK. Could not have made me happier. It made me laugh, cry, want to travel to these places, want to have a sister, etc. Basically, I did a little dance the entire time I was reading.
I wanted to give myself a few days to get over the pure emotion I felt after I turned the last page. I wanted to review it immediately, but I find over time that these types of reviews tend to be full of emotional overreactions and I’d prefer that not to happen, so I waited. Because if I had reviewed this immediately upon finishing my head would have exploded it was so full of thoughts. It ended up not mattering though because I still loved this book just as much.
The writing was fantastic. Nothing particularly special about the prose itself, but the way the author captured the imagery of the places the protagonist visited were brilliant. Western Australia was dusty, barren, but full of wonderfully friendly people and epic surfing waves. Indonesia was crowded, humid, frangipani scented, and full of beautiful beaches.
Shocked. Just stunned by this entire novel. In awe. Overwhelmed. In love with the characters. All of them. They are full of depth. Flawed but likable. People you can relate to because of the things they have been through in life. Personalities that jump off the page because the way they relate to each other feels so utterly real and heartbreaking. I’ve never had a sister but this book made me want one so I could experience all the things that sisters go through (good and bad). The whole time you are reading this you know how it is going to end but not how it happens. And you know it’s going to end sadly. And yet when I got there, it was just devastating regardless.
I might cry a lot when I read books, but never has a book stuck with me quite like this one has. I’m not only calling this a favorite, but an all time favorite. Some books hit you in just the right spot. Some books make you rethink life and the way you live it. Some books gut-punch you with their awesomeness. For me personally, this book was flawless. Books like this are the reason I do what I do. I’d like to think somewhere that these people are real. That Katie is healing somewhere. That Noah is moving on with his life and becoming a better person. That Finn has finally found the love he has been looking for all his life. I hope that for all these characters.
I wish I could read this book for the first time all over again. But I can’t. So all I can do is tell YOU to read it so I can live through your experiences. And I don’t want to spoil it with too many plot points or technical talk. There is no need for that here. This book is a page turner and it is all about the emotional experience. I hope you choose to take the ride.