Friday, January 8, 2016

Review: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Release date: January 12th 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
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.

*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!

About the Author
Marisa Reichardt
Marisa Reichardt is a SoCal native and high school writing instructor. She has a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California and dual undergraduate degrees in literature and creative writing from UC San Diego. She spent her college years shucking oysters, waiting tables, and peddling swimwear. She has spent her post-grad years writing, tutoring, and teaching. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her family, and can usually be found huddled over her laptop in coffeehouses or swimming in the ocean.


  1. Yay! So glad you enjoyed this one. I wish that I was able to like Morgan a little more than I did, but I still very much enjoyed the story. Evan is adorbs, and he was the best thing to happen to Morgan. Great review!

    1. I felt that way in the beginning too, not liking her so much. But then I warmed up to her once I read more and started to understand her character. I totally agree with you on Evan, so swoon-worthy :)

      Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it too!

  2. This book sounds really good! Dealing with difficult issues like PTSD can be hard to do well in a book and it sounds like this one succeeds in that. I hope to squeeze this in at some point.

  3. I've been seeing great things about this book - the least of which, is how incredibly spot on the author was on depicting Morgan's character and her disorder. I'm convinced!


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