“At a time when cool, ironic fiction is too much the rage, here is a novel written straight from the heart, a tender yet fearless portrait of a loving family crippled by grief. Rachel Stolzman reminds us what kind of stories matter, and move us, the most.”

-Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and The Whole World Over


“Reminiscent of Ian McEwan’s The Child in Time and Frederick Reichen’s The Odd Sea, this is a moving and important novel. Rachel Stolzman’s story about a woman’s attempts to find order in the broken world she inhabits deftly captures grief and the struggle to live within its lifelong specter.”

-Bret Lott, author of Jewel and A Song I Knew by Heart


“As Stolzman’s character-driven debut opens, eight-year-old Anna Levy and her mother witness a horrific scene: the small boat that her five-year-old sister, Megan, is on with their father capsizes close to shore, and Megan drowns. In the immediate aftermath, Anna blames herself for not plunging into the water and joining the frantic search. She begins an imaginary, one-sided conversation in sign language with Megan that leads the grown-up Anna to adopt a deaf five-year-old (whom she mistakenly renames “Adrea” by incorrectly signing “Andrea”) and to a career working with deaf children. As Anna and Adrea grow into their lives together, watchful Anna is forced to confront ghosts from her past and to learn to stop living life as a spectator. Stolzman gives Anna a poetic soul (“words of sympathy had exhausted my tolerance for words themselves”), and a carefully constructed redemption that unfolds with vivid observational detail.”

-Publishers Weekly


“By offering her heroine’s hesitant optimism through such disarmingly honest confessions, Stolzman exhibits an authentic emotional and narrative integrity, an impressive feat for a debut novelist. Stolzman brings this lyrical sensibility to an elegiac tale of a family’s heart-stopping tragedy and hard-won redemption, in which a tarnished silence can once again be made to shine through the resonate power of love.”

-Foreword Magazine


“Against the themes of loss and mourning in this radiant novel are balanced those of nurturing and hope.”

-Roy Hoffman, author of Chicken Dreaming Corn and Almost Family


“Rendered in spare and original prose, The Sign for Drowning is a piercing and poignant tale of loss and love. Rachel Stolzman writes from the heart and speaks to the heart. This haunting first novel is the story of unspeakable horror and extraordinary beauty.”

-Patty Dann, author of The Goldfish Went on Vacation


“I read often and I can honestly say that there are only a few books that I feel as though I just can not put down. This book was one of them. I read it in just two sittings and nearly missed my stop on the train! It is hard to believe that this is Rachel Stolzman’s debut novel.”

-Dr. Sharon Pajka, Galluadet University

One comment

  1. Yes, yes….I loved the book. It really captured the feeling of loss and desperation, of intense feelings and sadness and yet renewal and redemption in Anna. Her devotion and understanding of her adopted daughter was poignant, offset by her intense grief and sharing how the drowning effected the entire family. I was drawn into the novel and did not want to put it down. The descriptions written in sensitive poetry style really touched me.


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