Book Review: Floating in Saltwater

Normal. What's normal? In the modern age I suppose it means flat screen TVs and video games. But what if that normal included outhouses and superstitions and secrets? What if it included a steady stream of borders and renters who kept your imagination as busy as your mother's daily list of chores?

Floating in Saltwater tells the first part of a coming of age story for Barbara Ann. The oldest of two natural born and a handful of adopted relatives and needy neighborhood children, Barbara Ann is slowly starting to figure the world and herself out. It is fast becoming apparent that life is unfair and not everyone is treated equally. She dreams of creating a life for herself, away from the mundane existance of home where she can pursue her art and be happy.

Each character in this book are so well developed, by the end I was sure I could identify each of them if I passed them on the street. I like that the author did not burden the reader with too much description, but allowed room for each reader to fill in the empty spaces with ideas and images from their own lives. I also really appreciate that no character was supremely good or bad. It made them real and believable, as they should be, but at certain moments, also bigger than life. 

By the end, I was definitely vested and wanted to know more about what happened to each character. Did Barbara Ann manage to break free and pursue her art? Did Dorothy, the live-in nanny/maid/servant ever find a husband? What became of Barbara Ann's younger sister, Kathleen and the other children?

This story takes the familiar and weaves it into unique pieces of a life that make the story Barbara Ann's own. Just the flow of people, from so many different walks a life, each with their own special set of troubles ensures this book is one of a kind. Full of gorgeously simple and yet brilliant prose, there was not a single passage I felt was over or under done. It was as if I was right there, sitting in the back seat of the car or huddled in the kitchen the entire time. 

Once I started reading, I just couldn't stop. This book provides such a realistic window into the life of this family. Barbara Ann's struggle is timeless, even if her circumstances are uniquely her own.

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