Saturday, May 07, 2016

Underwater, by Marisa Reichardt

A survivor of a school shooting, Morgan may be considered "lucky," but she couldn't feel farther from it.  Since the tragedy, she's been home bound, terrified of leaving the house.  She takes her classes by correspondence, barely bothers to get dressed, and eats the same meal every day.  When a new boy named Evan moves in next door and (annoyingly) won't leave her alone, it awakens a desire in Morgan to try to reclaim her previous life.  But the pain is always overwhelming to her and getting back out into the world is scary and maybe just a bit too much for her to deal with.

A heartfelt book that sensitively explores trauma, anxiety, and recovery.  I liked this better than the other book about a school shooting (This Is Where It Ends) that I finished earlier this week.  Neither book explores the shooter's perspective, but I felt that Reichardt did a much better job of exploring what it means to be a survivor, expressing Morgan's fears, guilt, and willpower.  Some minor elements (like the subplot about Morgan's estranged Dad and his PTSD) seemed a bit clunky, but the novel got Morgan's journey right and provided a heart warming, but unsentimental, tale of a strong young woman coming back from the brink of madness.

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