Thursday, 3 September 2015

Review: Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

Publication Date: September 8th 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House
Length: 288 pages

Huge thanks to Netgalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,” shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run. 
In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.

This was a heartbreakingly beautiful book. The kind where I had to go back and re-read whole paragraphs because of how lyrically beautiful they were and I knew I hadn’t fully appreciated them the first time. The kind stuffed with lines and quotes that resonate deep inside whilst you’re reading.

It’s a gorgeous book about friendship and family and the ties between all of them. The heart and soul of the book for me, without question, was the relationship between Olivia and Jamie. I loved the descriptions, the way they interacted with each other and the relationship that was both there at the beginning of the novel and evolved throughout.
I also adored the relationship between Olivia and the memory of her mother, and her relationship with her father. They were such interesting concepts and they were explored in such beautiful ways.

Despite everything that happens within the book, it remains a quiet story, one suffused with longing, for the past, for the future, for people both there and not, and for an elusive idea of a life that can never be. In short, it’s beautiful.

However despite how much I loved the relationship between the four of them, and particularly the relationship between Olivia and Jamie, I never really connected with Max and Maggie in the same way. Max particularly just didn’t work for me – probably because he walks the fine line between loving and terrifying and just slightly abusive and I have known Max’s in my life and characters like him just don’t appeal to me anymore as romantic leads. I also felt like we never really got to know him or Maggie in the same way, they felt almost like superfluous padding to the group, which was a shame. I wanted to know them they intrigued me, and I felt cheated that we didn’t get to see more of them.

So whilst this was a haunting and beautiful book, it didn’t quite fully immerse me in the story as I’d been hoping it would. It is still one of the top contemporaries I’ve read this year and if you enjoy quietly lyrical stories suffused with sadness and hope then this is a definite must read.

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