I found this book sitting on the new arrival shelf at the National Library and Archives of Quebec on one gorgeous Sunday. I was taking my sister there; another one of my attempts to try and get her to like books… (Mission failed, but I won’t give up.) The beautiful cover caught my eye, and then the title, so simple, Swallow.
I had never heard of the author, Theanna Bischoff, but when I saw she was a Canadian author, I couldn’t resist and check it out from the library, even though I have a mountain of books on my nightstand. It’s nice to read books about places you know.
Swallow is, as the cover mentions, “a touching and poignant tribute to sisterhood”. With an absent father and their mother constantly ill, sisters Darcy and Carly Nolan were forced to rely on each other growing up. While unpredictable Carly bounced around, her life's direction uncertain, Darcy fell in love, went to University, and moved to another province. When nineteen-year-old Carly unexpectedly kills herself, Darcy is left to carry the burden of their childhood memories forward alone. The pain of these memories overwhelms Darcy as she struggles to unravel her own feelings of guilt, and to make sense of her sister's death--as an act of destruction, of misery, but also of love.
The writing style was absolutely delightful. I had read a few YA novels before this one, and the elegance of the writing was welcome. The story is told in one of those sad and nostalgic tons, with a tinge of regret. Something I really enjoy.
“If swallows mate for life, where was its partner? Would it mourn forever, like Papi? What happened when part of you was gone forever?”
Darcy goes back and forth into her memories, sometimes she’s in the present, sometimes in the past. The pace of the book isn’t slow, even though you could feel it is. It’s just laden with sadness (in a good way) and it flows really well. I can’t remember any long and unnecessary descriptions.
I could relate a lot to her life, and so this book brought back a lot of memories. It was definitely an emotional read and I enjoyed every pages of it. The length was also perfect. Not too heavy, not to short.
“Our childhood photo albums seemed to suggest, not necessarily inaccurately, that we’d raised ourselves.”
I highly recommend Swallow to anyone who likes to read a good book about dysfunctional families. This book is a testimony of pain and loss, but also of hope. And that’s really what life is all about.
I will definitely be reading Cleavage by the same author.