Florian Wacker perfectly captures the mood at the municipal outdoor pool during a hot, aimless, small-town summer. Compulsively readable, Poolside is an astutely observed piece of literary fiction about teenage friendships, with a tantalising hint of mystery.
Sixteen-year-old Jan lives in a small town near Frankfurt. He spends every summer with his friends at the public swimming pool where they practise diving from the pool’s springboard, but never manage more than a couple of back flips due to its limited height. This becomes a symbol for the limits of the town: if you want to succeed, you have to get out of there. One day another boy turns up, makes the perfect jump, and promptly leaves. This boy, who calls himself Andy, becomes something of an obsession for the group: he reappears and disappears, but never interacts with anyone else.
The novel explores the back-stories of the friends and Jan’s budding romance with Clara, before Jan leaves to go to a boarding school for gifted pupils. His time in the town is over, and he says goodbye to his friends. At the end of the novel Jan is in Frankfurt visiting his father. In the public pool he is stopped by a gang of teenagers and introduces himself as Andy …