Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: "Girl Underwater" by Claire Kells

"Girl Underwater" by Claire Kells has already been published so you can go scoop it up right now and start reading this terrific thriller right away. Astonishingly, this is Claire Kells' first book! This is a story about survival in the thick of a crisis and afterwards when one has to deal with the fallout from enduring something horrific.

Avery Delacorte is a sophomore at a California University, she is an Olympic hopeful swimming in a nationally ranked team. She is happy, she may not be swimming the events she wants but she feels good about her life. She has a boyfriend, she is popular and she's finally broken away from her suffocatingly successful family. Avery is the youngest child, the only girl. Her three older brothers are hugely successful, one is a million dollar baseball player, another one is in Hollywood. Finally she's making her own way in California, so many miles away from Brookline, the wealthy part of Boston, Mass.

Her teammate Colin Shea thinks she should fight for what she wants, to swim the 1500m. But what does he know, Avery thinks. He's the next Michael Phelps, he can choose whatever he wants when it comes to his swimming career. Avery just wants to fit in. She actively avoids Colin on campus because of this conflict. Avery is forced to spend 6 hours with him though when he sits beside her as they fly home over Thanksgiving break. She will become grateful for his switching seats to sit beside her when the plane crashes in the bitterly cold Rocky mountains. He tells her they will survive as the plane crashes into a cold lake. Avery believes him, she holds onto Colin's words as her primary comfort.

Only five souls survive the plane crash. Colin, Avery and three little boys. Now they have to survive the freezing weather where everything they can scavenge from the sinking plane is wet, they have little food and no shelter. How does one overcome these extreme conditions? And if you do survive, how do you deal with the aftermath, the physical and emotional pain that follows victims of tragedy.

This is a five star book. I will certainly be seeking out Claire Kells' future books because this one was so stellar. I found myself grabbed from the first page. Kells has written her characters so expertly that I felt connected to Avery and Colin immediately. I could see myself feeling just like Avery as she struggles to help them all survive. The novel moves back and forth through time so the reader feels immersed in her survival before she's rescued and after as she deals with the psychological trauma of the event. I couldn't put this book down, since this story alternates from past to present I know Avery survived but I felt an immeasurably strong need to get to the end of her story. Kells is a terrific writer, she created great tension between Avery and all the people around her. It seemed as though no one could understand her pain. It made the book a visceral experience. Hopefully Claire Kells will write another book soon because I couldn't recommend this one more strongly. It's a beautiful story of survival.



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