BOOK REVIEW: Underwater by Marisa ReichardtUnderwater by Marisa Reichardt
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Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

1. Breathe
2. You are okay.
3. You are not dying.

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Probably my newest and most shocking addiction, book genre wise, is realistic fiction. It might be a surprise to some people who don’t know how neurotic I am (cough, everyone knows, cough) that there was a time before GR (B.GR.) I didn’t like books that made me feel too heavy or weighed down. I still, admittedly, don’t like to feel depressed while reading because it is supposed to be an escape, but my views have changed almost completely-Reading a story that isn’t sugar coated doesn’t make me heavier…it makes me feel whole.

I swim. I float. I breathe. I burn. I hope. I dream. I think. I wonder. I am.

Let me explain: Before, when I read a book that wasn’t, I don’t know, action-packed, full of romance, seeped in the paranormal (perhaps another shocking fact seeing as I don’t read many paranormals anymore), I didn’t find it enjoyable. I found it boring, lacking, and without intrigue. But for some reason, the wonderful year of 2015 was my year of change, my year of adventure, my year of trying new things, expanding my horizons, and, ultimately, stepping widely out of my comfort zone. And it greatly benefitted me. I now have so many favorites for 2015 that I couldn’t possibly list them or remember them all. And, believe me, that’s a good thing! Now, since I was so wonderfully stretched this year, I found a new favorite nook to ‘hide’ myself in-Realistic Fiction.

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I swear, when I read the first book that was RF in 2015, I literally-literally-face palmed myself. I wasted so many years being a snob, lifting my nose haughtily in the air, turning the other way when realistic fiction was nudged in my direction, that my head was shoved so far up my ass I missed some absolute favorites that I may never find again. Sure, I’ve swept up quite a few…and they were fabulous. But there are so many that I’ve passed over that I will never be able to find all of them again…and that makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. But that’s neither here nor there. 2015 may have been my best year for books ever, but 2016 will be the year of capitalization. I want to take all the wonderful stories I read in 2015 and use them as inspiration for what I NEED to read in 2016-and this is my first realistic fiction of the year. If this is any indication of what my year will be like…I have no reason to be scared, only good things are heading my way.

He chuckles as he rounds the corner and slides down next to me. He knocks his knee against mine. “You okay? Was it too dark, maybe?”
“I don’t think my problem was the lights being out.”
“I meant the play. That was some pretty dark shit for a bunch of kindergartners.”

LOL >.<

I don’t quite know how to explain what this story is about without ruining it, so I’ll be brief. Morgan’s life has been turned upside down: she doesn’t leave her apartment, she takes online classes instead of attending high school, and she sees a therapist every Tuesday and Thursday…in her apartment. She can’t watch the news and she regularly has panic attacks. Her life used to be normal-parties, boys, best friends, and swimming for her high school team. Her life was everything she could ever hope for….and then it wasn’t. One fateful day-October fifteenth-forever shaped her in ways she never imagined possible. Guilt threatens to smother her and secrets almost bury her alive. If only if only….if only it hadn’t happened. If only he hadn’t been there…if only. What if [less than] one hour of horror took everything good away from you in the blink of an eye-extinguished all your hopes and dreams by taking your freedom from you in an instant. What would you do? Morgan can’t even fathom walking outside her apartment. Well…at least until Evan moves in next door.

And that’s one more thing that makes me know that even though Evan and I live next door to each other, we are miles apart.
He will leave his house every day.
He will traipse through the courtyard of our building.
I will watch him go.
He will be a boy living out in the world.
I will be a girl peeking out from behind a curtain.

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Aaahhhh Evan!!!! I adored him, naturally. He was sweet, kind, caring, endearing, loyal, and everything that Morgan needed. He really was so much more than a love interest. He was her rock. He was her light at the end of the tunnel. He was the person that created the spark that stoked her inner fire again. He may have been just one of many inspirations in her life, because she adores her brother and mother, but he was the oxygen she needed to come back to life….he was her lifeline.

“You weren’t swimming. You were sitting at the bottom of the pool doing nothing.”
“I was thinking!”
“Well, stop thinking!”
“How am I supposed to do that?”

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And it’s crazy because, while I thought he would have a large part in the story since he was in it so much at the beginning, he really wasn’t in it near as much as I’d have hoped. But that’s my point-he wasn’t an extremely large part, but he had a massive impact and burrowed himself deep in my heart. She pushed him away and pushed him away and shunned him, one of my problems with the story even though I could never possibly understand her pain, yet he never gave up on her. It warmed my heart and soul, lighting me from the inside out, igniting my warm fuzzies and fluttery butterflies.

“I didn’t want it to get cold. That’s why I needed you to open up,” he says.
“Thanks, Superman.”
He grins like he’s relieved I’m calling him that. I notice dimples digging into his tan cheeks. There’s a part of me that wants to nudge my pointer finger into one of them because they’re so cute.
“I’m not superman. Clark Kent, maybe. Not Superman.”

The bonds formed in this book, her mother, brother, Evan, her friends, Brenda [her therapist], they were beautiful. They were by far the biggest highlight and strongest selling point in this story, and I found the relationships wholly realistic-they were honest and raw, gritty and deep. Relationships aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, puppies and kittens, flowers and unicorns-they are harsh and true and fragile as glass…but if you open yourself up, trust in others and in yourself, they can be the most rewarding asset in your life.

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Morgan’s struggles resonated deeply within me…until they didn’t. Ouch, okay, hear me out. The beginning was so strong, and I adored every minute, even in the end. But at one point, when she began to push Evan away (repeatedly) I had a hard time connecting with it. And that’s the thing, you don’t have to. It’s the truth. People have moments in their lives where they are at their lowest and they can’t believe someone would want to go through it with them-for them, and that’s where I lost my ability to understand. I hurt when she hurt, I ached when she ached, and I yearned when she yearned….but for about ten percent at one point (you’ll know when) I couldn’t fathom why she went there. Other than that?? This book was perfection..and I can’t imagine never having learned about it.

Her journey, her quest to restore faith in humanity-and the world-is one I don’t know I could have traveled. A quote from my favorite series of all time sums up Morgan’s life perfectly-’It takes ten times as long to pull yourself together as it does to fall apart’. And it’s true. It’s simple. It’s right. But most importantly, it applies to me. If what happened to her had happened to me, I might not have been as strong or as courageous as she (well, she gets there, that’s the whole point). It took one moment, maybe 20 minutes, for her world to shatter into oblivion….yet it took her months to try and walk out her door. Being reduced to a heaping, crumpled pile on the floor is a harsh thing…but it’s what we do after that defines who we are. I only hope I never have to live through such a tragedy…but if I do, I hope I’ll have the courage to put one foot in front of the other and live my life to the fullest. It’s all any of us can do.

Thank you, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, for bringing this wonderful book to my attention ♥


I swim. I float. I breathe. I burn. I hope. I dream. I think. I wonder. I am.

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This book was everything I hoped for it to be…yet there was still something that kept it from being an instant favorite. Perhaps my mood, my tiredness (from being severely sick), or just a lack of one little thing were the causes, or maybe it just is what it is: A very endearing, thought-provoking book that touched me deeply, but didn’t stay with me. Staying with that format, I don’t have time to write a review right now, seeing as I’m at work and was late because I’m sick (again), but I will post one tomorrow for this wonderful and heart-warming story.

Hope I can do it justice!

Thank you, Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, for bringing this wonderful book to my attention ♥

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