Review: Left Drowning by Jessica Park00:00
Author: Jessica Park
Date of publication: 16 July 2013
Genre: New Adult
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My rating: 4 stars
I was provided with an ARC of this book by the author in exchange of an honest review.
What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?
Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.
I read a lot of New Adult novels, and in most cases I find them rather disappointing, so I am happy to say that I really liked this one. It is probably one of the best reads for me this year so far. I have a soft spot for novels about fate and soul-mates and this one treated the topic in a refreshing new way. It was about people who don't believe in God and fate, yet their lives prove exactly the opposite.
Left Drowning is the first book by Jessica Park which I read and I find her writing style quite appealing. In this book Ms Park explores some heavy subjects (child abuse, death of the parents, alcohol abuse, faith/lack of it) and it is done mostly in a profound way, though some of the issues probably deserve more place in the book than they actually got.
In many ways Left Drowning is a typical New Adult novel about two college students with dark secrets/troubled pasts coming together, finding love and their happily ever after. What makes it stand apart are a set of well developed characters (both main and supporting ones) who enter into complex relationships and undergo personal growth and development.
The book starts with a powerful opening chapter introducing the heroine, Blythe, at the lowest point in her life. She is not the type of heroine that I get immediately drawn to, but with the development of the book I grew to like her more and more. She has a strong, distinct voice and most of the book is told from her POV. Her personal growth and the process of learning to live with the consequences of the tragedy of her past were convincingly presented. Through her interactions with the other characters, Blythe matured and was even strong enough to help them when they needed it.
One by one we meet the Shepherd siblings whom I loved - Chis (the hero), Sabin (a wonderful supporting characters with strong presence and unique personality), the twins - Estelle (I am on the fence in my assessment of her) and Eric (the quiet gay boy whom everybody loves).
I liked Chris but I wish were given more insight into his inner world. The only chapter told from his POV, although pivotal in essence, was not enough. I was also rather disappointed in how the whole matter with his engagement and marriage was handled. The problem was essentially solved for him, instead of him making a decision and acting on it
I really liked how the motif of running was interwoven in the novel and how it was used in the final chapter as an absolutely beautiful end of the story.
What bothered me in this book was the excessive swearing and graphic sex scenes. At first, I was taken aback and I thought they did not fit the characters at all. Then I realized they are a reflection of the trauma the characters have suffered. Still, the sex was over the top for me, the numerous detailed sex scenes did not really contribute to the story.
Overall I liked the writing style of Ms Park and the set of complex characters she created. I was deeply moved by this novel and I definitely plan on checking her other works soon (Flat-Out Love and Flat-Out Matt).