Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
*Received physical ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This was a wonderful debut. Very well-written and thought-provoking. Underwater packed an emotional punch and it gave me a deeper look on the impact of tragedy and how someone in Morgan's (love the name) position sees life afterward.
I've never read a story like this before, much less heard about Morgan's character in real life before. And I've never considered the people who had a close encounter with someone like Aaron and had survived. How they felt, and what they go through. The blurb had touched the surface of the fact that Morgan was dealing with guilt, and right from the opening of the story readers could see that she was suffering from PTSD and so much more. There was definitely something else going on. I instantly became invested and wanted to know why she felt so guilty and felt like she could have prevented tragedy.
Her mom was very supportive and found someone that could help Morgan through her pain, and I liked Brenda's character and how much she tried, as well as related to Morgan in a way that's fully revealed later on in the story.
Evan's arrival was significant because he brought out something in Morgan that she hadn't experienced in a while. Her growing feelings for him made her realize that it was okay to go on living and take a bigger step outside of her apartment. And I loved that Evan was honest with her about his connection to her past school and that he was straightforward with what he thought about her living that way after she told him. His feelings were justifiable and it thrilled me that he didn't give up on her and they eventually became closer.
Aside from Morgan's guilt, there were other aspects of the story that kept it even more intense. Her father was also going through PTSD after serving time in the military. I thought it was terrific that the author had both parent and child dealing with that, and even though they were two different situations, the suffering was similar. And I rooted for Morgan while she tried to overcome it and hoped that her father would do the same, no matter how stubborn he was being.
When Morgan finally revealed why she was feeling so guilty over the unfortunate event, I literally gasped. I have no idea what I'd do if I was in her shoes. But like her, I wished she'd known and maybe she could have prevented it from happening. But also, it's like what Brenda said to Morgan, when someone like that has their mind made up, there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. They might not go through with it on that day, but eventually they will because there would always be something to push them to that point.
Like I said, it was a great story with a wonderful plot. It held my interest from the beginning to the end because I wanted so badly for Morgan and her family to persevere. And I wanted everyone to heal and start living again. Loved the relationship with her mom and little brother. He was so cute and a huge part of Morgan wanting to overcome her fears. I liked how the story ended and how she got to see her father and told him how she felt and what she wanted from him. It definitely made an impact on him.
Overall, a fantastic debut by Marisa (my little sister's name) and I look forward to reading anything she writes next!