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+
Paperback, 399 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Skyscape
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Four Stars: A solid read about two broken people coming together and healing.
Blythe stumbles drunk into her dorm room, again. For the past four years, she has been swimming in a fog. Her parents died in a fire, and she is drowning in grief. It hurts that her younger brother blames her and rarely speaks to her. The next morning bleary eyed and hungover, Blythe meets an enthusiastic and interesting new friend who changes her perspective. With new found courage, Blythe decides to walk down to the lake. At the lake, she sees a handsome boy skipping rocks across the smooth water. Instantly, she feels drawn to this boy, it is as if she knows him and somehow she knows that he is her past, present and future. What Blythe doesn't know is that Chris is also struggling with heavy burdens. Can the two lost souls somehow come together and save each other from drowning?
What I Liked:
- After reading Parks' amazing and emotional Flat Out Love, I was expecting another riveting book that would grab me and hold my emotions hostage. While this book didn't quick capture my heart like Flat Out Love, it is still a solid read featuring broken and flawed characters who slowly learn to live again and overcome their heartache. It is a long and trying journey that is frustrating at times, but the end is sweet and satisfying and well worth the trip.
- This is definitely a character driven novel. Park proves once again that she is capable of creating amazing, realistic characters that will snag your attention and win you over. Her characters are all weighed down with intense emotional burdens, but over time they each grow, change and move beyond their past, no longer will they be held hostage by the pain. Blythe at the beginning is just going through the motions and surviving. Her new friendships with the Shepherd siblings proves to be the healing balm to her soul. I loved watching her metamorphosis physically and mentally. By the end, she is a totally new person. Chris, on the other hand, comes across as charming, sweet and in control, he is well practiced at burying his troubles, but you can't hide or escape your burdens and eventually he must come to terms with them. I loved how strong and brave he was and his story broke my heart just a little bit. Along with Chris and Blythe, there are some terrific secondary characters such as Sabin, the charismatic and lovable younger brother who is a skilled actor battling alcoholism. He was my personal favorite. The Shepherd twins: Eric and Estelle, Eric is quiet, sweet and kind while Estelle is loud, boisterous, a bit profane and religious. An interesting mix indeed. Finally, James, Blythe's younger brother, rounds out the cast. James is also trying to cope with grief, and over time he learns to forgive and manages to repair his relationship with Blythe. Usually in a book like this, you only get a couple of damaged characters, but this provides you with six people who grow and change and overcome hardship. I definitely adored the characters in this one.
- This books packs a punch, it is full of all kinds of emotions: grief, loss, anger, lust, forgiveness and love. If you are a fan of books that send you on an emotional journey you will certainly appreciate this one.
- I was pleased that after all the drama and heartache this book slips into a hopeful and pleasant happy ending that will left me feeling good.
And the Not So Much:
- Even though I enjoyed this book, I felt like I had been there done that with the plot. The storyline involving two severely scarred people who come together, fall in love and eventually heal each other has definitely been done. For me, it is getting to the point where these contemporary New Adult books are becoming predictable, and I am starting to become desensitized to them. Perhaps if I hadn't already read similar books to this one, it would have had more of an emotional impact, but for me, it felt all too familiar and it was even predictable.
- The romance was a let down. I was expecting a breathtaking romance like I experienced with Flat Out Love, but I didn't get that. The romance in this one is extremely frustrating. Chris keeps Blythe at arms length for fear of getting close to someone. I appreciate that the two formed a solid friendship before anything transpired. Just when it appear things are moving forward, there are some big bumps in the road, and I personally didn't think that they fit. It was way out of character for Chris to do what he did and I hated him a bit for his actions. This is a romance that is up and down, hot and cold, on again off again, and it gets annoying. Thankfully, it ends on a good note.
- Let's talk about sex......this is a new adult book that is recommended for readers seventeen and older. However, this book strays far beyond that territory and moves into adult romance practically erotica territory. I have said this before, but I will repeat it: I am not a prude when it comes to sex in books, but there is a fine line between the right balance and too much. This book moves far into the too much category. There are plenty of steamy, hot sexual scenes between Chris and Blythe, and by the end I was skimming because it got to the point that I felt it was overtaking the plot. I honestly wished I had a physical copy of the book so I could count the pages. While there was a couple of times where the encounters were full of emotion and a joy to read, most of the time the sex was just lustful screwing ( I am avoiding using the f word here but it is pretty much that). Repeated scenes of screwing, took away from the beauty of the book and the act, and in fact toward the conclusion of the book when I was eagerly awaiting Chris' story, I once again had to go through numerous pages of screwing. If you are a fan of hot sex then I am sure you will enjoy this, but I must warn you it definitely moves into too much information territory. Sometimes the best sex scenes are the ones that say less. There is a brief mention of masochistic sex, and I felt that it was brushed over. This was a topic that could have been dealt with better, not by sharing the details of the act but by explaining why a person would engage in that behavior and how to overcome it. For the most part, it just felt like it was thrown in there for shock value and not properly addressed.
- I wished that this book presented a bit more detail on Blythe and James' parents and the Shepherd's father. There is very little information on what all their lives where like before and I felt like I was missing something. I would especially liked to have had a bit more on the back story of Mr. Shepherd. What drove him? Why did he behave so erratically? Did he ever try to make amends?
- There were several instances in the book where I felt that things strained beyond believability and sometimes it felt a bit contrived.
- This is definitely a book for mature readers as it takes on some hefty issues such as child abuse: physical and mental, drinking, masochistic sex, and lots of heartache. There is a blatant amount of sex in this one. This is not a book for younger readers.
Left Drowning is an emotional journey as a group of young adults learn to overcome the heavy burdens of their past. This is a book about healing and learning to love and live again. This is a good solid read, but it lacked a bit of the magic that I fell in love with in Ms. Park's book: Flat Out Love. If you want a sweet romance definitely read that one. If you are looking for a troubled romance with plenty of ups and downs and emotional impact you will enjoy Left Drowning. Even though I seem conflicted, I did enjoy the book and I was left thinking about it long after I finished reading it.
"Anyone who looks even vaguely attractive in a normal setting becomes drastically less appealing on the way back to the dorm. Beer goggles are no match for atrocious lighting."
"Or did a well-intentioned but inept and drug-addled tattoo artist foul up 'Jesus Loves Me' and forever brand him with 'I Love Cheese?' "
"I see perfection in things that are likely considered imperfections by others."
"No one else could ever kiss me like this, of that I am positive. I could breathe him in forever. I could fall in love forever."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own