Girl Underwater by Claire Kells | Book Review

July 10, 2015 Book Review, New Adult 0 ★★★★

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells | Book ReviewGirl Underwater by Claire Kells
Published by Dutton Adult on March 31, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Survival
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the Publisher
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4 Stars
An adventurous debut novel that cross cuts between a competitive college swimmer’s harrowing days in the Rocky Mountains after a major airline disaster and her recovery supported by the two men who love her—only one of whom knows what really happened in the wilderness.

Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.

That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.

In the wilderness, the concept of survival is clear-cut. Simple. In the real world, it’s anything but.

I love survival books and plane crash books (wow… does that sound insensitive!? Haha!). I love the excitement and survival instincts they bring out in our characters. Girl Underwater had been on my radar for quite some time, so I jumped on it as soon as I could. While it was not what I expected, I ended up really enjoying it anyway! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I know this has nothing to do with the story or the author, but Tracey Garvis-Graves, my favorite author ever, blurbed this book. She wrote the ultimate survival love story of our time (On the Island), so if she thinks that Girl Underwater is, “a powerful love story embedded in an action-packed tale of survival” then I’m going to be all over it. Her endorsement is a huge selling point for me.

2. I felt a little disconnected from the story. The plane crash and the beginning really hooked me, and then the story alternates back and forth between the snowy dangers of the Rocky Mountains and the realities that occurred after Avery’s rescue. I was disappointed in the fact that we knew right from chapter two that Avery makes it home. It kind of took away feelings of suspense or discomfort, and I was not on the edge of my seat as often as I could have been. I also hated being ripped out of the mountains to read about her life after her rescue. I wanted most of the book to take place on that mountain, with maybe some of the aftermath in the ending chapters or an epilogue. That’s what I mean when I say the book was not expecting. But once I got passed the fact that my expectations were inaccurate, I was able to enjoy the book for what it was.

3. I was expecting a survival story, but what I ended up getting was what happens in the aftermath of surviving. It’s a story about surviving life after you survive a disaster. We read a lot about Avery’s attempts to deal with her PTSD and her efforts to pick up where she left off the moment her plane went down. It was a very powerful, yet sometimes depressing, portrayal of someone who has gone through the unthinkable. You do not get this in books (or news stories) often, so I did appreciate the added details that are usually left behind the scenes.

4. I really loved the characters. Avery is strong in the mountains, and she is strong after she returns home. She was strong in two different ways, though. On the mountain she was strong for Colin and the three little boys she was stranded with. She did everything in her power for them, even if it meant risking her life. When she was back at home, she finally had to focus on herself. She had to be strong for herself, and that is oftentimes the hardest thing to do. I loved Colin so much. He’s the typical gentleman, who was concerned. He was also so swoony to me the way he treated those little boys. And the boys were very sweet and lovable.

5. There were so many feelings and emotions. It was quite a roller coaster, but I ended up really loving and appreciating that about the book. Girl Underwater acted as more than entertainment. I learned a lot about what goes through the mind of a PTSD victim, and I got to see what I think was a very accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be recognized in public for something you’d like to forget ever happened to you. I really felt for Avery. Moving on is hard when the media and your friends keep pulling you back to such a painful event.

6. I loved watching Avery learn to cope. And I loved watching her come to terms with her life and embrace the good parts of it, even if they make her remember the bad times. She never gave up on herself.

7. The romance was not the focus of the book by any means, but it was an underlying factor. I couldn’t help but hope for the best, and I was very happy with how things turned out for everyone involved. It was real, not ideal. And it was beautiful.

Overall, this book reminded me of how much I love reviewing books. I went into this wanting one thing, and the author gave me something I needed instead. I really loved reading about Avery’s and Colin’s stories, and I loved watching their lives change shapes as a result of what happened to them. I think this book would appeal to anyone. It definitely has young adult/new adult/adult crossover appeal, and it has a little but of everything for everyone. Highly recommended.

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