At a time when nothing seems real, it takes something truly unusual to put your life into focus. When her beloved husband Jackson disappeared without a trace, popular novelist Sia Dane stopped writing, closed down her house, stuffed her heart into a cage, and started floating. It wasn’t the normal response to heartache, but Sia rarely did things the normal way.
Exactly one year, one month, and six days after Jackson’s disappearance, Sia discovers a mysterious man on the beach. He’s mute, unresponsive, and looks as if he has just walked out of the sea. It’s the sort of situation Jackson would have solved with a simple call to the police. But Jackson is gone. As unreal as he seems, Sia is determined to help this man. Perhaps she can return him to his place in the world—to whoever lost him and loves him. Perhaps she can answer their questions the way no one could answer hers.
But as her friends and family help her winnow her way to the truth, Sia comes to realize that the unfathomable leap between sorrow and healing begins with a single step.
THE ART OF FLOATING is an extraordinary and magical novel – a complex, deep and thought-provoking story of love, loss, and grief ---a state of mind, one of mere existing--a state of floating, a world of imagination, suspended to protect oneself from grief, and hurt---Coping without really living or accepting, unable to move on.
Meaning of floating:“having little or no attachment, not firmly placed or set or fastened, uncommitted, not bound or pledged, continually moving or changing position.” Sia, lost her husband, Jackson—disappearing when he goes out for coffee on a regular morning after a fun and sexy morning bet, while lounging in bed (who gets oral sex or goes for coffee)? One ordinary morning --- (Sia, Gumper, the dog, and Jackson). What would cause a happy man to leave for a coffee run; never to return?
A little over a year later, novelist Sia (has been unable to write since the tragic day her husband left without a word) ---- discovers a beautiful man on the beach, dressed in a business suit, soaked, and mute----THE SILENT MAN.
She takes him home and allows him to merely exist, calling him Toad. He never speaks or communicates. There is much controversy over this mysterious and gorgeous man, which expands worldwide in search of the history of this intriguing man.
Where did he come from, his past, his story? All appearances indicate he has experienced something very tragic, causing him to be unable to speak. Everyone has an opinion, as to the man’s story, combined with the woman who found him--she also has been withdrawn and kind of crazy since the loss of her husband.
When two lost souls meet, they have more in common than they may think. Could they help one another over their grief, and back to a world of living—how are they connected? Is the water, the ocean, any relation? Where do they go when in a floating stage?
The novel goes back and forth from the days leading up to Jackson’s disappearance, their life and love to today. A personal novel of intimate feelings about two people, (this novel will make you laugh out loud, with the wit and sarcasm, sweet and erotic/sexy banter, off the wall jokes) through 171 chapters---as Sia recounts their poignant time together. Oh loved Sia’s parents, their engaging background, and her best friend Gillian (which keeps everyone on their toes).
If you are looking for a quiet, mindless beach read—this book is not for you. If you are seeking a deep, thought- provoking, unconventional and imaginative novel, with writing which bounces all over the place---full of eccentric characters, and explores deep hidden feelings of the heart, soul, and mind ---this is your book. It is not a depressing book, as has so much humor and wit------a total page-turner!
There is also another secondary character – the dog catcher, a collector of things—highly entertaining and puzzling---how does this character fit into the story? Towards the end of the book, everything will come to surface, as the pieces fit perfectly.
It is hard to put THE ART OF FLOATING in a specific genre---mystery, suspense, self-discovery, adventure, drama, magical, yet it explores elements outside the box—leaving the readers dying to find out the answers to the two mysteries, and draw conclusions.
From quirky rhymes, poems, words floating all over the page, incredible usage of words, thoughts—O’Keeffe expresses her talent and a style which is rare---she tackles grief, and withdrawal, masterfully skilled at character development, plot planning, with wonderful lyrical prose. A captivating story, with intense feelings and suspense--- which builds until the end, leaving you dying to know more about these complex characters.
I was transported with settings so realistic and feelings raw---holding your attention, no matter where the author leads you. She has control—the parallel with water was quite peaceful and its relation to floating, as well as the two lost souls, which are grieving.
Would highly recommend the audiobook, as Kristin Bair O'Keeffe (Author), and Christina Traister (Narrator)—totally mesh for a dynamic duo, both understanding these well-drawn characters, for a stellar performance.
If you are looking for a wide variety of comments and opinions—this book is ideal for book clubs and further discussions. I so look forward to reading more from this talented and highly creative author!
This review sums up my thoughts about THE ART OF FLOATING: "Blending radiant language and a dreamlike journey through sorrow and healing, this is one to recommend to fans of Sarah Addison Allen and Eowyn Ivey." ----Booklist