Review: Swimming for Sunlight by Allie Larkin


Release date: April 23, 2019

Publisher: Atria

Genre: Women’s Fiction


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. 


I love a good book about starting over and this one caught my eye with the mention of a close relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I was incredibly close to my own grandma and valued our relationship so very much and I figured I would really enjoy reading about Katie and Nan’s special bond. I was mostly right, this was a light and sweet read that will make for good summer reading.

At the surface level there is plenty about Katie to like and I did admire her resolve when it came to starting over after her painful divorce. But once more about her character is revealed I’m afraid I never quite connected with her. She had a childlike quality about her and it grated on my nerves instead of bringing out my usual nurturing side for some reason. Thankfully I was totally obsessed with Nan and her mermaid friends, these ladies totally made the whole book for me and made me wish that I had a group of elderly women fussing over me! They were sassy, strong, brave and inspiring and made me laugh out loud several times.

Overall this was a solid read for me, despite my lack of connection with Katie I really did enjoy it. It was pretty predictable but the quirky supporting cast of characters including the mermaids and Katie’s best friend Mo more than made up for that aspect. There’s also a pretty sweet dog named Bark that features heavily in the story so if you’re an animal lover you would probably appreciate this one.

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

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