Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Over the course of one summer that begins with a shocking tragedy, three generations of the Adler family grapple with heartbreak, romance, and the weight of family secrets in this stunning debut novel.
Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home.
Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.
Esther only wants to keep her daughters close and safe but some matters are beyond her control: there’s Fannie’s risky pregnancy—not to mention her always-scheming husband, Isaac—and the fact that the handsome heir of a hotel notorious for its anti-Semitic policies, seems to be in love with Florence.
When tragedy strikes during one of Florence’s practice swims, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth about what happened from Fannie—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.
Based on a true story and told in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Saints for All Occasions and Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s family saga is a breathtaking portrait of just how far we will go to in order to protect our loved ones, and is an uplifting portrayal of how the human spirit can endure—and even thrive—after tragedy.
THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Florence Adler Swims Forever opens with Florence’s death and ends with the birth of Fannie’s baby. In what ways do life and death frame this novel?
Early on, Gussie says that Florence always spoke to her like both a “beloved child and a trusted grown-up” (4). Apart from Florence, how do the other adults in Gussie’s life treat her? Do you think it was right to send her to live with Esther for the summer, or appropriate to make her keep such a big secret from her mother?
In the early 1930s, Atlantic City was seen as the “Jewish Riviera” of the East Coast. In what ways do you see Jewish culture celebrated within this community? In what ways do you see it under threat?
Florence Adler Swims Forever: A Novel
This Recommended Reading is sponsored in partnership with Simon & Schuster.