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 science teacher and is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip.  http://lisaniver.com/one-page/

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