Charleen Hurtubise’s immersive The Polite Act of Drowning depicts a family treading water in small-town America

Book review

The Polite Act of Drowning by Charleen Hurtubise

Anne Cunningham

The story begins with the accidental drowning of a young girl in the tiny beach town of Kettle Lake, Michigan. And the theme of drowning, in some form or other, recurs throughout. Characters are drowning in grief or alcohol or yearning, in mental illness or ancient grudges, but each member of the extended Kennedy clan in this isolated village in the mid-1980s , rubs along together well enough. Just never mention the past.