When recently divorced Katie Ellis and her rescue dog Bark move back in with Katie’s grandmother in Florida, she becomes swept up in a reunion of her grandmother’s troupe of underwater performers—finding hope and renewal in unexpected places, in this sweet novel perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Claire Cook.
Aspiring costume designer Katie gave up everything in her divorce to gain custody of her fearful, faithful rescue dog, Barkimedes. While she figures out what to do next, she heads back to Florida to live with her grandmother, Nan.
But Katie quickly learns there’s a lot she doesn’t know about Nan—like the fact that in her youth Nan was a mermaid performer in a roadside attraction show, swimming and dancing underwater with a close-knit cast of talented women. Although most of the mermaids have since lost touch, Katie helps Nan search for her old friends on Facebook, sparking hopes for a reunion show. Katie is up for making some fabulous costumes, but first, she has to contend with her crippling fear of water.
As Katie’s college love Luca, a documentary filmmaker, enters the fray, Katie struggles to balance her hopes with her anxiety, and begins to realize just how much Bark’s fears are connected to her own, in this thoughtful, charming novel about hope after loss and friendships that span generations.
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Katie Ellis finds herself back in her hometown of Port St Lucie, Florida, after a messy breakup with her husband. She brings along the one possession she kept in the divorce, Bark, her shelter mutt that she cannot be without. Bark and Katie both suffer from fear and anxiety, and being home with her grandmother Nan is exactly what Katie needs to begin picking up the pieces of her life.
In Port St Lucie, Katie picks up right where she left off before leaving for college years before. Hanging out with her best friend Mo, working for Isaac altering bridal gowns, and living with Nan who suddenly has gone vegan and healthy. Nan’s best friend Bitsie is Katie’s safe haven, where Katie can sew in the late Bunny’s sewing room, and hide out from those things that she’s not willing to confront. Bitsie wants to resurrect the life she and Nan had prior to marriage - they were in a seaside mermaid show. Bitsie thinks this is just the fundraiser they need for a local charity. Nan thinks this is a great project to get Katie’s mind off her woes. Katie dives in with the passion she has for costume making, and in doing so, is able to move forward.
Allie Larkin has a gift for taking real human issues and crafting a story around them. Katie’s and Bark’s anxiety issues are so intricately interwoven. As the novel unfolds, Larkin shares more and more of Katie’s past, what led to her PTSD and the fears she’s carried forward in her life. Larkin also brings in a little bit of every woman - the disciplinary one, the wild and crazy one, the brash and irritating one - into each of the characters surrounding Katie. These are the women who help Katie heal from her past.
I loved this book. Stories that bring out the best and worst in women appeal to me, and Swimming for Sunlight completely delivers on that. This is “chick lit” at its finest. Giving us a story of redemption and love, friendship, and every little bit of life that makes it worth living. Tough to put down, don’t plan on getting much sleep when you read this one before bed. But do read it. It’s a treasure.
This review has been posted at BookwormishMe.com
I loved this story and the characters
There's so much to love about the story.
As someone who has dealt with a small bit of anxiety myself, I was really drawn into the characters. I liked the elderly lades and how they watch out for each other - their little politics. I enjoyed seeing their lives though Katie's eyes. The book also bought back a bunch of memories about college loves and things that might have gone differently. Overall, just such a heartfelt and engaging story with such real and authentic characters. I'd recommend it to anyone.