Swimming to Elba is the story of Anna and Francesca, two beautiful teenagers living in Piombino, Italy. They are lifelong friends growing up in the miserable surroundings of a desolate city with a failing steel mill. It is here where they dream of someday escaping their depressing lives to swim across the sea to Elba.
Both girls live in tiny apartments of a housing project and their environment is rough. Anna's father is a chronic gambler and rarely makes an appearance at home. Francesca's father beats her regularly. The girls have been close their entire lives until Anna takes up with her brother's older friend Mattia and Francesca is jealous. Francesca then befriends Lisa, a homely classmate most consider an outcast. While the girls are separated tragic events ensue that they are forced to face without the support of each other.
I found this to be a difficult read because of the dismal and gritty subject matter. Adolescent girls flaunting their sexuality and pushed into adult situations is stomach-churning for me. This book is not for the faint of heart.
How this book was acquired: Gift from my son last Christmas
Shelf life: 7 months