As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel

by Elizabeth Poliner


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An Amazon Best Book of the Year

A multigenerational family saga about the long-lasting reverberations of one tragic summer by "a wonderful talent [who] should be read widely" (Edward P. Jones).

In 1948, a small stretch of the Woodmont, Connecticut shoreline, affectionately named "Bagel Beach," has long been a summer destination for Jewish families. Here sisters Ada, Vivie, and Bec assemble at their beloved family cottage, with children in tow and weekend-only husbands who arrive each Friday in time for the Sabbath meal.

During the weekdays, freedom reigns. Ada, the family beauty, relaxes and grows more playful, unimpeded by her rule-driven, religious husband. Vivie, once terribly wronged by her sister, is now the family diplomat and an increasingly inventive chef. Unmarried Bec finds herself forced to choose between the family-centric life she's always known and a passion-filled life with the married man with whom she's had a secret years-long affair.

But when a terrible accident occurs on the sisters' watch, a summer of hope and self-discovery transforms into a lifetime of atonement and loss for members of this close-knit clan. Seen through the eyes of Molly, who was twelve years old when she witnessed the accident, this is the story of a tragedy and its aftermath, of expanding lives painfully collapsed. Can Molly, decades after the event, draw from her aunt Bec's hard-won wisdom and free herself from the burden that destroyed so many others?

Elizabeth Poliner is a masterful storyteller, a brilliant observer of human nature, and in As Close to Us as Breathing she has created an unforgettable meditation on grief, guilt, and the boundaries of identity and love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594888765
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 11/01/2016
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Poliner is the author of Mutual Life & Casualty, a novel-in-stories, and the forthcoming collection of poems, What You Know in Your Hands. Her stories and poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and many other journals. A recipient of seven individual artist grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, she has also been awarded fiction scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers' conferences. She teaches creative writing at Hollins University.

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As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very insightful on loss and sorrow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an interesting look at the tensions between what is best for the individual versus the family. This really resonated with me personally coming from a tight knit family. I liked how the book talks about what lead up and happened after the death of the narrator's brother. Towards the end you learn what happened that day and gain an understanding of why different characters responded the way that they did to the death.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The characters were so well written I felt like I was part of the family. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good family drama.
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
Great Book. Awesome!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read Well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago