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Swimming to Elba - Silvia Avallone, Antony Shugaar

I listened to this book through Audible, on a few long haul flights but didn't really get the depth of it until I went back and listened again, filling in bits I'd missed. It's actually full of insights into life in a poor town in Italy, but it's a bit slow and didn't grab me on the first listen.


Anna and Francesca are the main characters, best friends, teenage girls, they do absolutely everything together. But there are aspects of each other's lives that can't be shared, things that go on beyond closed doors. 

They live in a town where the steel mill is the main employer and drugs, teenage sex, crime and abuse are the norm. There is little hope for the future and meager incentive for self-improvement.


The author paints a wonderful picture of summer in Piombino, Italy - the heat, the atmosphere, the oppressive feel of a run-down seaside town, tenement buildings and the desperate need to BE someone. As the two girls develop into young women over this long summer, their friendship is tested, along with their morality and their family ties.