Book Review: As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner

March 2016 Lee Boudreaux/Little, Brown

Ah, families. They can be such a joy and such a torment. But for one family, a single day in 1948 changes all their lives forever.

In that moment, Davy, just a little boy, is killed in an accident by the ice cream man. What came before that day and what came after is told by Molly, Davy’s older sister.

It all started the way their summer vacations usually did. They opened up the house in the small Jewish enclave and then began their usual summer rituals…dips in the ocean, running along the beach, preparing the meal for Shabbos.

This particular summer, new things occur. Romances are begun and turn into something more serious than a summer fling. The children begin to mature, and realize things about their parents that had stayed hidden to them before.

Then, after the death, their lives continue. Always the family rotates back to the summer home, always they work to deal with their individual grief and the heavy burdens of their individual guilt.

The development of each character and the ways their lives intertwine are deeply considered in this novel. The voice, which has more of a memoir tone, becomes a bit wearying at times; the voice too often allows the mundanely of the dialog to overwhelm the straightforward narrative.

But for a certain type of reader, the page will fly along. The only pauses will occur when the reader wants to savor some moment in the family…which is often. Overall a strong novel that deals with a lot of complexities in an interesting way.

4 stars!

Interested in a novel about adult sibling relationships? Try Reparation: A Novel of Love, Devotion and Danger. A young Lakota Sioux man must save his sister and his lover from a peyote cult before the minister enacts a mass murder. 4.8 star average on Amazon!


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