Goodreads ~ With an absent father and their mother constantly ill, sisters Darcy and Carly Nolan were forced to rely on each other growing up. While unpredictable Carly bounced around, her life's direction uncertain, Darcy fell in love, went to university, and moved to another province.
When nineteen-year-old Carly unexpectedly kills herself, Darcy is left to carry the burden of their childhood memories forward alone. The pain of these memories overwhelms Darcy as she struggles to unravel her own feelings of guilt, and to make sense of her sister's death - as an act of destruction, of misery, but also of love.
Darcy and Carly are being raised by a single mother in Toronto (their father abandoned the family when Carly was still a baby). Their mother's income as a waitress doesn't bring in a lot of money so the family doesn't have a lot. When their mother isn't working, she is snappy and hard on her daughters. Darcy, as the older sister, has to take care of her sister often but they are so different ... Darcy is more down-to-earth and responsible whereas Carly is more of a free spirit. They have an older cat-rescuing neighbour they call Papi (they adopt him as their grandfather) who looks after them when their mother isn't around and he provides some normalcy in their lives.
When Darcy moves out of the house to go to university locally, she feels bad about leaving Carly behind but she does what she has to do for herself. She and Carly talk and/or visit every day. This continues when Darcy follows her boyfriend, Patrick, to Calgary where they both go to school and eventually find work (Darcy as a teacher). Then Darcy gets the call that her sister has committed suicide. That destroys her world and she has a hard time coping.
This is the second book I've read by this author and I liked the writing style. It is written in first person perspective from Darcy's point of view. It jumps around back and forth in time but I found it fairly easy to figure out what the time period was given the content. As a head's up, there is swearing.
It's a depressing story and while I can't say I liked the storylines (none were happy), it did keep me interested. There aren't really any likable happy characters (except perhaps Papi but he was still mourning the death of his wife who had died many years before). Darcy had no support and was trying to do the best she could with what she was given.
I'm assuming the title refers to the reference in the book that sailors, who often had to go away for long journeys, had tattoos of swallows. Swallows apparently symbolized hope for their safe return home, back to those they loved.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.