Croatia: The First Rule of Swimming

 

In The First Rule of Swimming: A Novel by Courtney Angela Brkic, Luka taught his granddaughter: “The first rule of swimming was to stay afloat.” Madgalena and Jadranka, two sisters who grew up on Rosmarina Island, Croatia, must find a path to balance in this novel. Through the details of decades of family history during the war and after, each family member discovered truths among what was told and what secrets went unsaid.

While Magdalena remains in Rosmarina and becomes a teacher, Jadranka “was not so much irresponsible as a force of nature, difficult to predict and difficult to contain.” Jandranka explained her philosophy: “Who needs a plan when the possibilities are endless?” Others commented about Jandranka, “She has always moved to her own music.” Her efforts to understand herself and her past create ripples throughout the family that turn into waves of understanding.

Their cousin, Katarina, spent one memorable summer with the girls on the island after her family moved away to America. The trio had challenges as youngsters, which reappear when they are reunited as adults. The sisters felt that Katarina’s family “had picked an easier life, and it only seemed fair that they should lose something in that transaction.” The two girls did not want to share their island with their cousin but involving her and connecting with her was crucial to their ability to move on with their lives.

As the novel evolves, every family member reveals surprising tales; the pieces of the puzzle fit together to create an endearing portrait of what we do for love.

Love to read books about travel? Read more reviews by Lisa Niver Rajna

This review first appeared in the Jewish Journal.

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Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a television host, travel journalist as well as a passionate artist, educator and writer who has explored 101 countries, 6 continents and sailed on cruise ships for seven years on the high seas and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which was read in 212 countries in 2018 and named #3 on the top 1000 Travel Blog and the top female travel blogger 3 times in 2019. Find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over one million views on her YouTube channel. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on both Twitter and Facebook, has over 150,000 followers across social media and ran fifteen travel competitions publishing over 2500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. She has been a finalist for six Southern California Journalism Awards in the past three years and won an award for her Jewish Journal article. Niver has written for AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres (United Airlines), Jewish Journal, Luxury Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Myanmar Times, National Geographic, POPSUGAR, Robb Report, Saturday Evening Post, Scuba Diver Life, Sierra Club, Ski Utah, Smithsonian, Trivago, USA Today 10best, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave Rebel: 50 Scary Challenges Before 50,” about her most recent travels and challenges. Look for her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip. http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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