Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Left Drowning by Jessica Park

* * * 3/4

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 have been eagerly awaiting to have this book in my possession. I don’t know if it’s the striking cover or just the premise of the story that got to me. It happened to be a Kindle Daily Deal recently which made my day!

Blythe is in a drunken stupor on our initial encounter with her. She’s a college senior now simply going through the motions until she graduates. She has managed to maintain a safe distance from everyone, avoiding relationships of any sort. She feels that she doesn’t quite deserve happiness or a social life since her parents died in a fire years before. The fire that took them and irrevocably changed her and her brother’s lives, is something that she blames solely on herself.

After a particularly disastrous and awkward drunk-dialing to her brother, she decides that she needs to sober up and develop a different perspective on life.  This is the same day that things change suddenly when one of her peers Sabin, introduces himself to her in the most spectacular of ways. His is a very colourful and animated personality that normally Blythe would run from. But she is charmed by his audacity and over-the-top mannerisms. There you go. She has finally made a friend. Even she is surprised that this is as much human contact as she has had with anyone in the four years she has been at college.

When she meets Chris, Sabin’s brother, it’s an inexplicable, instant attraction. She uncharacteristically introduces herself to him and ends up divulging her personal loss to him. For some reason, she can do this with him and feel safe. Chris quietly lets her grieve. There’s just something about him that allows him to be her safe haven though she finds it hard to understand the connection between them. It’s a series of false starts with them as they figure out what they mean to each other and what they want.

Blythe’s circle does grow and she gains new friends. Coming out of her self-imposed isolation to find herself being happy is almost mystifying to her. This is probably the part of the story I enjoyed the most.

There is about a three-chapter section where things get very hot and heavy where I felt I stepped into "Fifty Shades of Grey Lite". I didn't particularly care for it at the time because it felt distracting to me. Now that I’m done with it I suppose I understand why things were described in such detail. If Blythe has been this numb for the last few years since the tragedy, then it’s valid that when she’s with Chris that everything about them, both physical and emotional, would be a new sensation for her.

As for the rest of the story, as Blythe continues her journey, she realizes Chris and his family will need her strength to help them through the terrors that they had endured as children. The mysterious connection she shares with Chris becomes clearer the deeper they delve into the past that’s haunting them all.

Left Drowning has its emotional highs and lows. Their pasts are so twisted and horrific, it’s understandable they’d all feel demoralized as young adults.  All the characters are pretty awesome but sadly vulnerable, especially Sabin whose larger-than-life personality is just masking his own pain. All of them are stuck in their own hell and it's Blythe who helps to pull them from it.

I mentioned at the beginning that I was eager to read this and I'm glad that I was not disappointed. Jessica Park has written a sweet story that's messy in parts but also full of happy moments too!

~ Bel

No comments:

Post a Comment