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by Elizabeth Poliner

A spellbinding, 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 part 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 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.

Publishing Date: March 15, 2016

Elizabeth PolinerElizabeth Poliner is the author of Mutual Life & Casualty, a novel-in-stories, and What You Know in Your Hands, a poetry collection. She teaches creative writing at Hollins University.


"Vivid, complex, and beautifully written, Elizabeth Poliner's novel, AS CLOSE TO US AS BREATHING, brims with characters who leave an indelible impression on the mind and heart. This moving story of the way one unforgettable family struggles with love and loss shows an uncommon depth of human understanding. Elizabeth Poliner is a wonderful talent and she should be read widely, and again and again." —Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Known World

"What a lovely, lovely book." —Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge