January 11, 2016

Underwater Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Underwater blog tour! I have my review of the book to share with you today - and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Author: Marisa Reichardt
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Release Date: January 12, 2016



Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school. 

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside. 

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.
Underwater is a fantastic debut novel that fans of YA contemporary fiction will definitely want to get their hands on! One of the big trends happening in the genre right now is dealing with tragic situations - like school shootings - and also of mental illness. Both topics are incredibly (and sadly) relevant in today's society, which makes them much more realistic and easy to identify with than some of the other topics in the genre. In my opinion, these aren't simply fiction for readers to enjoy - they carry a lot of weight when it comes to the various topics and aspects they discuss, which (if written the right way) can shine light on some of the subjects society still tries to keep in the dark, and can also bring understanding about them. Obviously, this book deals with both a school shooting and mental illness, and the author writes about each in such a detailed and personal way that it's basically impossible not to get swept up in the story - and hopefully some readers will gain insight on these issues at the same time.

If you read my reviews, you know that YA contemporary isn't one of my go-to genres and I actually don't read many because they seem to be redundant. I'll admit that the books dealing with school shootings intrigue me - not in a sick way, but more about trying to understand what the survivors have to go through and the after effects of the events. That's not why I picked up this book though. I was drawn in by the mental illness aspect of the story. Not just because I think society still stigmatizes this subject (because I feel it does) and I'm hoping to get a better understanding of it. I want to read them to see how authentic they are - how close is the story getting to the reality of the illness? Is it being realistic and truthful? Most people probably wouldn't take so much time and effort for one single topic in a genre they don't usually read - but I do it because I suffer from mental illness myself. Even just saying that here makes me uncomfortable and ashamed. I suffer from several disorders at once, so a lot of these books are more than relevant to me. Honestly - I read them to see how close they are to telling the truth about a disorder - mostly because I just want others to understand what it feels like, even if it's just a tiny bit. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't had to deal with mental illness themselves or with people in their lives - that's why I feel it's so important that the books relating to them get it right. And with this book, I can honestly say that the author is spot on the entire time - which made me both smile and sigh in relief at the same time.

I immediately connected with Morgan due to her mental illness problems. She's experiencing panic attacks, won't leave her apartment, and has certain rules and rituals that must be followed - no matter how weird or ridiculous they might sound. I found a kindred spirit with Morgan, although my problems didn't come from the same kind of trauma as hers. I was obviously rooting for her the entire time and loved watching her get better - even with the baby steps - throughout the book. The writing was incredibly well done and I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that this was the author's debut. It shows the immense talent she possesses and I'm definitely going to be keeping tabs on what she's working on. 

It feel so weird focusing on one single aspect of the book and basically skimming the rest, but I'm honest in my reviews, and can only relate my impressions and experiences the best that I can. The plot was tragic but very well done. The incident that happens on October 15th isn't directly talked about for awhile in the story, but it's easy for the reader to piece together a general idea of what happened. The novel is told in the first person point of view - from Morgan's perspective - which I think was a perfect fit for this story. It's a deeply personal book and needed to be told in the same way, and (in my opinion) the only writing style that can have that kind of depth is the first person POV. We get to feel everything that Morgan does - her flashbacks and memories, her daily thoughts and inner dialogue, hopes, dreams, grief, guilt, and so much more. This allows the reader to really connect with the narrator as well as experience the book, instead of just reading it. I can go on and on about different parts of the story - what I liked and didn't like or whatever - but that would take forever and I've already written a ginormous review. Overall, I very highly recommend this book to fans of YA contemporary/realistic fiction, especially those who enjoy reading about heavy topics in today's society. It's also a great book for fans of romance and readers looking for a story about hope and healing.
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Follow the Underwater by Marissa Reichardt Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

I'm a SoCal native and high school writing instructor. I currently live in Los Angeles and can usually be found huddled over my laptop in coffeehouses or swimming in the ocean.

My debut YA contemporary novel, UNDERWATER, will be out 1/12/16 from Macmillan/FSG and 4/7/16 Macmillan Children's UK.

I love all books and all genres. While I do keep track of all the books I've read here, I generally don't do ratings or reviews.

Giveaway: (1) Finished copy of Underwater - Open to US only!


1 comment:

  1. I totally swooned! Evan is just so.....gah! I didn't really like Morgan, but I did like how she overcame everything in the end, and her relationship with her little brother was just too cute.