June 25, 2013

Title: Left Drowning

Author: Jessica Park

Expected Publication: July 16th, 2013 by Amazon Children’s Publishing

Story Synopsis: 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.

**NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way.

I put Left Drowning on my top shelf!

My thoughts..

Left Drowning probably isn’t for everyone. And I say that only because the story is built upon some tragic, mature and intense subject matters that will indeed break your heart and leave you sobbing all over your kindle, but if you’re a reader that can harness and understand the importance of the bad and be patient for all the good, then please.. you must read this book!

My favorite part of this story? The characters. And not just the main characters either. It was ALL of them!

It all begins with Blythe McGuire. She’s drowning.. just barely keeping her head above the surface.. as she silently suffers from the untimely death of her parents along with the tragedy and guilt that surround it. The few relationships she has in life are botched and strained, including the one with her younger brother, James. Blythe has lost herself amidst her pain. It’s just easier to surrender to the dark rather than fight it. Although Blythe was such a complex and emotionally overwhelming character, I was so intrigued and moved by her unknowing strength and awe-inspiring resilience. I was also kinda constantly pleading to my kindle *facepalm* with her to never give up. And there were so many times I really thought she was going to.. until she met Chris. And even after she did, I still wasn’t so sure..

Chris Shepherd’s past is unfathomable. He’s a beautiful man with a beautiful soul and a cloudy opinion of what he thinks he deserves in life. He suffers from pain that won’t allow him to love, a pain that may even be more complicated than Blythe’s. But when Blythe and Chris meet up one afternoon, the tone of the story does a 180 and there’s suddenly hope! Even without explanation, Jessica Park forces you to feel this instant and fateful connection that’s really unlike any other connection I’ve ever read about before. As their relationship deepens, it also becomes more difficult because these two are battling their pasts that have forever haunted them. There were a lot of times I wanted to seriously strangle Chris. His behavior, at times, was insensitive and seemingly selfish, but once I found out why, I finally understood the reasons behind his actions. This isn’t your typical love story. And that’s just another reason why I loved it so much. Yes, there were happy times (and holy crap.. the sexy times? GAH! I could write a whole other review on that alone!) but Chris and Blythe had to overcome so much just to stay in each others lives. Even though they may have not been “together” throughout the entire book, their love for each other continued to grow and didn’t falter regardless of the distance and obstacles they had to endure.

As for the supporting characters.. Left Drowning wouldn’t have been what is was without Chris’s siblings, Sabin, Eric and Estelle, along with Zach, Eric’s partner, and James, Blythe’s brother. I’m totally in love with each one of them. They accented the story and Blythe and Chris’s characters beautifully, each in their own, unique ways. Usually, I’m thrilled for ONE superb character! Bonus for us, in this book, we got a whole cast of awesomeness!

The writing..

I am still in awe of Jessica Park and the incredible talent she has. There is some seriously difficult situations here to discuss and in my opinion, topics were presented as straightforward as possible and evoked such a strong emotional reaction.. I’ll definitely be reminiscing about this story for a long time to come! The storyline flowed along seamlessly and perfectly. The plot was unique, utterly heartbreaking and romantically breathtaking with a handful of unexpected twists and turns that had me clutching my chest as I read. I can’t wait for more of her writing!

The inspirations..

From emotional strength to music to physical strength to family bonds to friendship to fate.. there was constant inspiration throughout Left Drowning and I loved, loved, loved it! There were so many times when things were so dark and muddled and I thought to myself, good lord, how can this ever get better!? But as the story unfolds we learn, just as the characters do, that there is always hope and understanding and opportunity “to take a sad song and make it better..” ( Beatles lyric! #Imanerd )

The running aspect of the story touched me as well. I taught myself to run the same way Blythe did. I needed an outlet too. So I ran. And focused on the music flowing out of my ear buds because it made all of those conflicted emotions that life boldly inflicts on us everyday, just a little bit easier to handle. I really loved reading about Blythe’s progression as a runner and how much something so simple helped her.. This book was just amazing on so many different levels!

“I have it in me to run for another ten minutes. And the playlist is calling my name. Chris is calling my name. Ten more minutes of running will give me ten more minutes to play in my private fantasy world where Chris doesn’t pull his body away from mine, and he doesn’t stop kissing me, touching my hair, or moving his hand under my shirt. He goes further, feeling every inch of my body.

And so I run in order to stay with him..”

The ending and final thoughts..

The ending was perfection. Blythe and Chris’s relationship was never an easy one. Constant, trying circumstances kept them fighting for the connection they shared, each other and their families. I am so extremely lucky to be one of the readers chosen to preview Left Drowning before it releases in just a few short weeks.. I just couldn’t put this book down! It’s a work of art. It’s actually books like this one that make me flail and gush and cry all over myself. It’s an amazing thing really.. An unexplainable gift to readers like myself that live for these kinds of stories. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book and I cannot wait for more of Jessica Park’s writing!

Happy Reading!

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