Title: Left Drowning
Author: Jessica Park
Genre: New Adult, fiction, romance
Publisher: Skyscape (July 2013)
Rating: 5.5/6 – Loved it so much!
Synopsis from cover: 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.
My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: I was so, so excited that this finally came out! It’s a nice thick book, and I curled up in my blankets, played my music, and lost myself in this book for a solid four hours. And I fell in love. So hard. Not with the couple, but with every single main character – all seven of them. Possible Spoilers Ahead.
What did I think about the characters? I could really go on about all of these people. They’re just so special and unique, and even in the large cast of characters Park made each one stand out with their own voice: they never get lost in the noise. I was emotionally attached to all of them, and truly enjoyed all of their parts equally.
The best part about these people is that they all come from some pretty crappy circumstances, and they acknowledge that. They can’t defeat their struggles on their own, and they rely on each other. The relationships, both platonic and romantic, were based on strength and love, even when they’re falling apart.
And the concept and plot? Concept: Take seven broken people and put them all together, and you’re going to get some heart-tugging drama. It was never overwhelming, though, and the drama was balanced and spread out well over the entirety of the book.
Plot: Love, love, love! I don’t think I can express how much I appreciated the fact that all of the events of the book were spread over about two and a half years. Everything was very organic, rolling out at a natural pace and never forcing something to work. While I can forgive the “love at first sight” trope, it’s a refreshing pleasure when a couple takes a few months to realize their feelings for each other.
What about the writing style? I was sucked in from the very first page, and taken on a roller coaster that extended through the very last page. I felt every emotion, and was completely invested in the characters. I don’t often cry in the middle of the book (usually it’ll be at the end, if I do), but this one had me shed a few tears in the middle of the story. [I love how I judge a book based on how much it makes me cry. I might need to get a new system…]
Anything else you’d like to add? This wasn’t part of the synopsis, but it’s on the dedication page, and honestly it was the most touching passage I’ve read in a long time. I wanted to share it with you here (and I’m going to print it out and tape it on my mirror):
This book is for everyone who has survived. You are not broken.
You can love and be loved, despite what may feel like
the eternally brutal nature of the world.
Even when you’re drowning and so far under,
there is always time to reach for someone who will teach
you how to breathe again.