“Florence Adler Swims Forever” by Rachel Beanland
Review by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian
In Atlantic City 1934, the Adlers rent out their house to vacationers and move into the small apartment above their bakery. This summer, the Adlers are joined by their granddaughter and a young woman from Germany who is awaiting the college year to start.
Although the quarters are cramped, all is well. Florence is able to swim in her beloved Atlantic Ocean daily in preparation for her swim across the English Channel, and her elder sister Frannie is able to rest in the hospital awaiting the birth of her second child. Disaster strikes and the family makes the difficult decision to keep Florence’s death from Frannie. Frannie already miscarried one child; no one wants to risk her losing another baby. Can the family, can Atlantic City, keep such a big secret?
The story is told by all the members of this household which adds depth and perspective to the narrative. I was especially taken by the storyline of Anna, the girl from Nazi Germany, and how desperately she and Joseph, the elder Adler, work to secure visas for her parents. It seems that Anna and Joseph are two of the few people who understand how hazardous being Jewish in Germany at that time truly is — stories are reaching America, but they seem too awful to be true.
At the core this is a story of a summer, an unusual one, and family dynamics during times of crisis.