Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: Left Drowning by Jessica Park


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.

Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+

4.5 star review by Guest Reviewer Nicole Lorenzo

When Blythe McGuire tragically lost her parents her life was forever altered. Her brother James partly blames Blythe for injuries he sustained when the fire claimed their parents, and their relationship has been strained ever since. Barely keeping her head above water and drowning in guilt she moves to a small town in Wisconsin to attend Matthews College. Now entering her senior year she keeps to herself, barely passes her classes and spends her nights in a drunken haze to try and numb the pain. All that changes the day she meets the Shepherd brothers.  Sabin Shepherd whirls into Blythe’s life and becomes the best friend she never knew she needed.  Unknowingly, the same day she meets Sabin’s brother Christopher, who brings forth feelings in her she never thought she could feel. Chris slowly breaks down some of Blythe’s walls and she feels herself opening up, beginning to face her past. Together Blythe and Chris have an inexplicable connection that neither of them are prepared to handle. Chris has his own tragic past that he has overcome but refuses to talk about.

“Right now, I embody failure and surrender, but I see in him the possibility of what I could have.”
Letting people into her life is new for Blythe, she prefers to stay to herself, never connecting to other people. So she surprises herself when she finds herself surrounded by new people in her life. Along with Sabin and Chris are their other siblings Estelle and Eric and Eric’s boyfriend Zack. With them she feels like she has a family again and she even finds the courage to face her brother James and begin to repair their broken relationship.

“I am hit with the enormity of the impact that this family is having in my life. They, and mostly Chris, are saving me. Or teaching me to save myself.”

The relationship between Chris and Blythe is very complicated. They are drawn together by a force neither of them can explain, but they are scarred from their pasts and this prevents them from moving forward. Chris is convinced that he is no good for Blythe. And as she begins to heal from her painful past she realizes that Chris and his siblings have gone through a terrible ordeal, and Chris more than the others are still living with those demons. Chris keeps pulling away from Blythe and although she loves him with her whole heart he is unwilling to return that love, afraid that he will bring Blythe down in to the darkness that consumes him.

“How can I possibly say good-bye to the person I am so hopelessly, deeply and permanently in love with?”

“You are the great love of my life that I’m never going to have.”

A whole year passes before Blythe’s and Chris’s paths cross once again. Blythe has now moved on from the depression that consumed her and mended the relationship with her brother. Although she has kept in close touch with his siblings, she has avoided all contact and information about Chris until now. No longer able to keep away from each other they find themselves and their siblings spending the summer together in Maine and succumbing to the enviable, their love for each other.

 ““What are we doing? What are you doing?”
“Loving you,” he says simply. “If you’ll let me.”
“Always. God, always.””

When Chris finally reveals the horrid details of his past that he has been keeping from Blythe, she realizes that he has saved his family in more ways than one. She is determined to make sure he realizes he is worthy of love and happiness. Then Blythe uncovers something in Chris’s past that gives extreme clarity to the undeniable pull that has been between Chris and Blythe from their first meeting.

“The natural, instinctual flow between us has always felt so right. Now I am sensing that our connection is even deeper than I have previously imagined.”

I want to start off by saying that this is probably one of my favorite books of the year. Jessica Park is truly an amazing writer and if you have not read anything else by her you need to rectify that immediately! Left Drowning took me on a journey of many emotions.  I was heartbroken by the turmoil that Blythe and Chris experienced throughout the building of their relationship. I literally sighed in relief when I realized that they were going to get the happiness they deserved in the end. The sadness and extreme pain that both characters and their siblings went through felt very real to me. It’s very rare for me to get as attached to the secondary characters in a book as I do with the main characters, but that definitely happened here, especially with Sabin.  I read this book from start to finish in one sitting, not being able to even put it down for a second. I was literally wrapped up in this world created by Jessica Park. It is definitely a must read, you will not be disappointed!!

“Last summer, you asked me to believe in us. I don’t believe in much, as you know, but I do damn well believe in us. Forever.”

An arc was provided in exchange for an honest review

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