Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone

swimmingtoelba  Regina  Review by:  Regina

Title:  Swimming to Elba

Author:  Silvia Avallone ; translated by Antony Shugaar

Collection:  Adult Fiction

Best friends in the impoverished town of Piombinao, Italy – 13 year olds, going on 18, dark-haired Anna and the blonde Francesca live in the giant, filthy, concrete barracks that line the beaches. They dream of swimming over to Elba, a resort town just across the bay, to escape the life that lays ahead of them. Most of the men in Piombinao work at the local Lucchini steel mills, including Anna’s too handsome brother, Alessio, and Francesco’s brutal father, Enrico. It’s the summer of 2001 and Anna and Francesca, with their new shapely bodies, are teetering on the edge of new, powerful sexual identities and experiences.

Very gritty and sometimes very uncomfortable to read, Avallone never minces words…her first novel won 2nd place in the 2010 Strega Prize competition and will make a good book club choice. It was also interesting but heartbreaking to see how the locals reacted to our 9/11 tragedy.

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