Girl Underwater by Claire Kells
Published by Dutton Books
Published on March 31st 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, New Adult, Romance, Sports
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An adventurous debut novel that cross cuts between a competitive college swimmer’s harrowing days in the Rocky Mountains after a major airline disaster and her recovery supported by the two men who love her—only one of whom knows what really happened in the wilderness.
Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.
That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.
In the wilderness, the concept of survival is clear-cut. Simple. In the real world, it’s anything but.
An exciting, suspenseful and emotional journey of a girl surviving a horrific trauma, and dealing with its devastating aftermath.
19 year old Avery is a sophomore in College, and is a dedicated and competitive swimmer. She has practically spent her life in the water, and is part of her school’s acclaimed swim team. She has a wonderfully supportive boyfriend, is close to her family, and is happy with her life. But everything changes when she is flying home for Thanksgiving break. Her plane crashes in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, and she is one of only five survivors, along with her teammate, Colin, and three young boys. For five days they battle the snowy wilderness before being rescued, and that is when Avery’s battle really begins.
Following Avery through the days, weeks and months after the crash, we watch her battle with her psychological trauma as she struggles to come to terms with what she has been through. The story flashes back to both Avery’s time in College, and her time in the mountains after the crash so we really get to know her and understand her situation, and it’s all so well written.
This is who I am now. Damaged. Traumatized. Lost.
Sometimes I wonder if I really survived anything.
The scene of the crash and the immediate aftermath is horrific and I could feel the terror of the impending crash, the impact, and their desperate escape from the downed plane. That, and all that they go through afterwards just trying to survive is explained in graphic and emotive detail, and I could see it all unfolding like I was a part of it.
But it doesn’t overshadow the heart of the story, which is very much character driven, and the dynamics are really well written. Avery’s relationship with her family is fantastic, her boyfriend, Lee, wants nothing more than to be there for her, and then there’s Colin. Avery’s relationship with Colin is a conflicted one dating back to her first days at College. They haven’t had a lot to do with each other, and she isn’t happy when they are seated next to each other on the plane, but fate has tied them together, and each little moment between them is something really special. I particularly loved the relationships that develop between those who survived after the rescue. Absolutely heartwarming, I thought it was realistic and beautifully done, and I loved that they continued to be a part of each other’s lives. And Colin is just incredible!!!.
I really liked Avery as a character. She’s intelligent, strong and brave and very easy to relate to. She handles her situation incredibly but her biggest torment is what happened after the crash, and there is a big mystery about the ‘thing’ that happened out there in the wilderness. It’s the one thing she can’t bear to think about and the story builds up to the big reveal while she struggles to come to terms with it all.
This is a debut novel, and I am really impressed by Kells’ writing. The story is enthralling, with a great mix of drama, action/adventure, and emotion and it’s all balanced really nicely. There is some romance, but it’s definitely not a major part of the story, which is definitely focussed on Avery’s recovery after surviving such a horrific event. It’s a great story, which is well told, and I’m keen to check out more of this author’s work.
I really enjoyed it – 4 stars.