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{July 14, 2013}   {ARC Review} Left Drowning by Jessica Park

17325147From Goodreads: 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.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.


I read some reviews about Left Drowning prior to reading it, which is something I hardly ever do, but as the note above states that it’s a novel for mature audiences as it includes strong language and sexual content, recommended for Ages 17+, I wanted to do a little research first.  Those of you who have read my reviews on the blog over the past few years already know that I’m a bit of a prude, and those of you who haven’t read my reviews, well… I’m a bit of a prude.  And, as the New Adult genre has become more prolific (and I love it), I’ve learned to research my novels with the above warnings prior to reading them because I don’t want any surprises.  That being said, I feel like the reviews I read prepared me quite well for this novel’s delving into the sexual aspect, but not so much for the intensity of the characters as they bare their souls.

This read is intense.  The characters are extremely deep and their plights really moved me. Both Blythe and Chris are extremely raw inside, running from their pasts, and it’s hard to keep from crying as you read through their situations. And it’s not just them, it’s every character.  Park reels her readers in with the authenticity of her characters, splitting them wide open and forcing them to work through the pain, face their pasts, and triumph or die trying.  Originally I thought this novel was just about Blythe and Chris, but really it’s about them all: Sabin, Eric, Estelle, Zach, and James… each one playing an integral part in this story; each one is hurting, and though it takes a while for protective walls to come down around the characters for the reader to really see their true selves, it’s there, it’s raw, full of emotion, and I just loved how Park portrayed them, forcing them deep into my heart and making me feel like I truly know them. The fact that this novel took place over a few years was an ingenious idea that further connected me to the characters as I watched them graduate from college and begin living lives on their own, and while I don’t agree with all the decisions the characters make, it’s absolutely beautiful.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this novel, even more than I originally thought I would, and it all has to do with Park’s undeniable ability to create characters and events so real that the reader cannot walk away untouched.  Park focuses on some very difficult topics in this novel and she does so with extreme care, and though my emotions were all over the place as I read, I wouldn’t have it any other way (make sure you have tissues nearby). The one aspect I, personally, could have done without, though, were the very graphic “mature” scenes that I felt were a bit too long (I really prefer fade to black sequences, but to each their own), but overall, the power of the novel really overrides that aspect for me.  Four stars.

4 stars

Amazon Publishing has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on July 16, 2013.

Anita Powers says:

I didn’t realize how emotional this book was, how raw, and thought provoking. I wanted to read this before but now I am moving it up on my list. It sounds really good and I love a book that touches and moves me, thanks for the great review.

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