They were always a pair: daring, intelligent Anna and breathtakingly gorgeous Francesca. Just shy of fourteen, their newly acquired curves and skimpy bathing suits have earned them celebrity status on the beaches of their gritty town, where the glittering resort island of Elba taunts them from across the bay. The girls, aware of their newfound power, are on the brink of everything—high school, adulthood, ambition—but when their intense friendship suffers a blow, each sets off on her own, only to learn that the "glamorous" world of adult physicality can be at best banal and at worst dehumanizing. As their choices take them to a painful crossroads, the girls must reconnect if they have any hope of escaping their small-town destinies.
Frank, sensual, and evocative of the Academy Award–winning film Cinema Paradiso and the international bestseller The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Swimming to Elba is a harrowing yet redemptive meditation on politics, family, sex, and the lasting power of friendship.