Tuesday, July 16, 2013


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+

Paperback399 pages
Expected publication: July 16th 2013 by Skyscape
eArc received from publisher via NetGalley

Where to find Left Drowning:

Where to find Jessica Park:

I just finished this way past midnight on Saturday night and it is still lingering with me. I can't seem to let these characters go--not just our two main characters...ALL OF THEM. Within pages of starting I knew that this book would have the potential to provoke a strong emotional reaction and it surpassed that potential. As I tweeted to Jessica Park--this book shredded me in the best way possible. 

Right?!? I honestly didn't think...sorry Jessica...that anything could top Flat Out Love. It was truly a masterpiece and I loved it with my whole heart. I like to think that is a lot of love, but I really don't let it out all that often so, yeah. Anyways...I harp a lot about secondary characters being a key component to a beautiful story, and well, Jessica Park has a powerful ability to make a family and their struggles so heartbreakingly real, but beautiful...and like I already had to tell her, I am in awe! 

All of our characters--Blythe, Chris, James, Estella, Eric, and Sabin are living with some deep emotional wounds. Each of them cope with these wounds in different ways--from all shapes and sizes of depression, avoidance, numbness, and many other mechanisms they have each put in place to shield them from the pain of dealing with these wounds. 

They are all each a part of the puzzle, and I connected with a few more than others. Sabin in particular. Aside from all of the harder parts of the story, I loved Sabin because he was such a good friend to Blythe..from the moment he crashed into her life in the coffee shop. And it is not often that a straight guy in a new adult novel is the best friend to a girl. I was in love with this...because usually either one is in love with the other and there isn't generally a true boy/girl friendship that is strictly 100% platonic. Chris's brother Eric is gay and helps this novel stray away from every single cliche trope that usually goes with it. Nothing was like I expected, which is great because expectation is overrated! Eric, Zach, and Estella and James all have their own issues, and help Blythe in many different ways...I love them all.

With the exception of one sequence, the lives of these characters are given to us through Blythe's perspective. We watch her go from a state of complete numbness to the soaring heights of love, the depths of grief and loss, and the steady confidence that dealing and healing from grief provides. To the credit of Jessica Park's outstanding writing, I felt each and every one of Blythe's phases in this emotional journey...and it was a painful journey. For what seemed like hours in my reading I was in agony for Blythe--even when things were going well, I still worried for her and couldn't seem to let go of the foreboding of bad things to come. The only thing I will say is that all of the worry and pain I felt while reading was worth it. Completely worth it--I know that my description will scare some people off and I hope that's not the case because the writing is so great and the story is such a good one that it's worth a few heart clenching moments.

Waiting for the shoe to drop? Yes...I did a lot of that too. And the pacing is so solid and the good times so well written and good, that the bad (that isn't the right word...hard parts...emotional parts) are hard to predict. Some of them gave me palpitations...some didn't...but I don't think there was a single emotion left unfelt. It is extremely difficult not to just say, read this book or you will regret not doing it, and deleting everything else! 

One thing that readers who read Jessica's widely adored Flat Out Love might not be prepared for is the sex. It's more explicit and prevalent in this novel. I didn't find offensive (but it's hard to offend me) and I definitely felt that the intensity of the sex scenes was an important and needed part of the novel. It didn't feel gratuitous or sex for sex's sake--these characters needed this. 

I was just thinking about this too....well aside from the fact that it was scorching...but I don't remember FOL having much of it, or I guess any...but I agree that it made the story complete..without ruining the deep emotional connection I had to it...and outside of yes, we are not easily shocked! 

This is one of those books that I want to talk about. I want to examine it and go over it with others and hear what they think. I keep thinking about the journey that Blythe undergoes in this novel and how difficult it was and how proud of her progress I was. I loved that she learned how to feel and cope and allow herself moments of anger or grief or mourning without shutting down or giving up. She became a fighter and a friend and a lover and sister, again, and so many of her scenes and reactions were imperfect and so real to what many people experience, think, and do. I'm still mulling over the many different things I will take away from this novel..but for now I'm thinking about how important both the journey AND the end point are. 

It was beautiful. I loved that Blythe recognized the moments that she needed to go through to begin to heal, on her own and with Chris and everyone's help. There wasn't just take with our heroine so that was refreshing. This was real life and everything that went along with it. The character's bodies and thoughts weren't perfect...their reactions to things were not perfect...their decisions definitely were not perfect...but they were a family and took care of each other and you might ugly cry...but it is definitely worth it. After this I made a shelf on my goodreads page that says Life-Changer...and this was my first book added to it.

Shelley: 5 Stars
Courtney: 5 Stars (We would add more if it were possible!)


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