My rating: 4 of 5 stars
LEFT DROWNING was a stunning read about overcoming the worst life can throw at you and rising from the ashes. From the title, picture, and summary I imagined a book that would leave me a sobbing mess but it was actually extremely empowering – it was about the trip back up.
At the beginning of LEFT DROWNING, Blythe is in the pits of (and 4 years into) her depression. She drinks to oblivion but can’t form a single relationship because she’s so comatose and empty inside. Her brother is the only person she has left that means something to her but even that relationship she sabotages – speaking to him only when she’s drunk and usually ending up making things worse rather than better.
I never post pictures in my reviews, but that’s in part due to the fact that I rarely visualize a particular actor or actress when I’m reading a story—but Blythe’s “voice” was so rare and unique (honest and raw while simultaneously witty and off the beaten path)—I couldn’t help but picture Ellen Page (think Juno or Whip It) when I imagined Blythe.
God knows it wouldn’t be fun for me anyway, considering I have the arousal level of a rock. So I add frigid to the list. To that stupid mental inventory I try so hard not to keep.
But every time that he laughs at a line from the play or mutters to himself—or, for Christ’s sakes, sniffs—I practically shudder with lust.
If I believed in God or was religious to any degree, I might argue that these crazy physical sensations are punishment for masturbating. For masturbating a lot. I think that I may have an addiction. A sex-maniac beast has awoken, and I am a horny mess nearly all the time. I almost feel surprised that I haven’t yet grabbed Estelle and shoved my tongue down that beautiful girl’s throat. I’d probably get further with Estelle than I did with her brother.
Oh my God. What is wrong with me?
After our first encounter in his room, which was just kissing and minor groping, Chris made himself pretty scarce. Once he'd finger-fucked me up against the door of my room, he became almost invisible. Christ, if I'd fucked him, he probably would've just vaporized.
Blythe is in the midst of her solitary life when the Shepherd family bursts into her life in all levels of color and energy. Sabin becomes a friend she can’t deny and Chris helps her to breathe, to experience, to live again—when she’s known only numbness for so long. Through her friendships with all four of the Shepherd siblings, she is able to experience a sense of belonging she’d forgotten and comradery where she’d had none since her family fell apart. Chris Shepherd is the real catalyst though; he helps her remember her traumatizing past in order to move past it.
“Your parents died. Your world fell apart.” I nod. He puts his hand on my cheek. “You were left drowning.” I nod again. “And you’re struggling to breathe.”
She feels a comfort with him I almost questioned in its immediateness, but as we read about Blythe and Chris in current time, the author slowly allows glimpses of the past that explain why Chris and Blaire feel such a comfort with each other and we begin to realize that their lives are even more interwoven than they know. Blythe throughout the story believes that Chris is her future and she loves him in a forever kind of way. But Chris has his own dark past and it’s deeply entwined into every part of him. He feels more with Blythe, and feeling is the last thing he wants because his past isn’t one that he can recover from.
I wish that I could be somebody else, but what’s happened to me is inextricably part of who I am. Who I will always be. It made me the person who you think you love. And so you love me either because of that or in spite of it. Both of which are unbearable.
Blythe knows that the only way that Chris will ever risk a future with her is for him to be able to remember his past—and she has an amazingly mature way of knowing when to push him and when to let him be.
LEFT DROWNING was a book that I found myself highlighting whole paragraphs out of—honestly I think I highlighted at least a quarter of the book. Every part of the story was impactful and meaningful—it made me feel! Sometimes I was sad, sometimes I was angry (so angry I wanted Blythe to go out and have a revenge fuck just to spite Chris, so angry I hated him even when Blythe couldn’t), and sometimes my whole body erupted in goosebumps from how crazily intricate and fateful life can be. But mostly? Mostly I felt hope—because that’s what the book really embodied—that Blythe once again had a reason to hope, a reason to believe in herself and in the relationships she valued.
LEFT DROWNING was 4.5 stars for me and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a book that will make them feel a wide spectrum of emotions.
**I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
**Reviewed by preppea on I ♥ Bookie Nookie Reviews.
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