Underwater by: Marisa Reichardt
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Release Date: January 12th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Psychology, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness
Rate: 3.5 Stars
Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.
But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.
When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.
Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.
When I first saw the cover for Underwater, I just had to know what it was about. I really wanted to know what caused this girl’s isolation from the rest of the world. What I got was something I wasn’t expecting. To go through what Morgan did would change anyone. Add that to the guilt she feels because she did a kind thing, only for it to end in such tragedy, I don’t think she stood a chance. She tried to move on and be normal, but that is not what happened. She closed out the outside world, let her friends go – and in her need to feel safe, she stays inside where she can control everything. I felt so bad for her situation, and just everything that brought her to that point. When a single mom and her teen son move in next door, everything that Morgan has tried to control starts to unravel. With the help of her therapist and Evan’s friendship, Morgan is able to forgive herself for something that would have happened anyway.
I love the story as a whole, but there were times that I felt strung along. I wanted to know what “The Event” was, and going back and forth with Morgan’s inner monologue kind of wore me down. Still, I was turning page after page because I was so caught up in the story. Evan’s appearance made the story more real, because despite the romance that blossomed between them, they had more in common than even Morgan realized. I love that twist to the story, and I was totally thinking something else was going on, so I was surprised. I love how Evan didn’t tiptoe around her because of what happened. To say my eyes bugged out during one such scene would be an understatement. Wasn’t expecting him to go there, but he did, and it was the best thing he could have said to her.
Morgan’s PTSD was not easy to deal with, but her therapist really helped her see that there was no reason for her to stop living her life because of the things that happened. I love how she pushed Morgan, and it seems that she got irritated a lot. There’s much more to this story than Morgan’s PTSD. The situation with her father really touched me. It didn’t end how I wanted it to, but I loved experiencing the change with Morgan. She grew a lot from start to finish, which is the point of the story. If you enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything, then I suggest reading this book. Fans of YA Contemporary, especially, will love this. Recommended!
I’m a SoCal native and high school writing instructor. I currently live in Los Angeles and can usually be found huddled over my laptop in coffeehouses or swimming in the ocean.
My debut YA contemporary novel, UNDERWATER, will be out 1/12/16 from Macmillan/FSG and 4/7/16 Macmillan Children’s UK.
I love all books and all genres. While I do keep track of all the books I’ve read here, I generally don’t do ratings or reviews.
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