Review: Left Drowning by Jessica Park

My Thoughts

A poignant and heartfelt story of surviving your past and finding a reason to live. This book had it all – heartbreak, love, sadness, pain. It held my heart and didn’t let go until the very last page.

4halfstars

Synopsis

LEFT-DROWNING (1)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.

My Review

“Your parents died. Your world fell apart.”
I  nod. He puts his hand on my cheek.
“You were left drowning.”
I nod again.
“And you’re struggling to breathe.”

What a moving and heartfelt book… layered with a multitude of emotion. It built slowly, gripping you, taking you through this well-written story of love and forgiveness. Blythe has been so lost. She’s been drowning in pain with a tragic past that won’t let her go.  She’s been a shell of a person. Not feeling. Not living. Not loving.

“It’s natural to want to connect with other people, I guess. Except I don’t want to. Not really. Which must be why I don’t have any real friends. But I drink and play the role, holding hope that self-fulfilling prophecies exist, and that I might make a connection and feel whole again if I pretend long enough.”

Blythe has been like this for so long, she’s even blocked some of the memories in order to survive. She’s lost everyone she loves, she’s so far under that she can’t seem to pull herself above water.

“I have mastered the art of melancholy.”

That is, until she meets Christopher Shepherd. He helps her breathe and find life again. He makes her feel safe and loved. He’s everything she’s needed for the last four years. I absolutely loved Chris from the beginning. His calm and introspective demeanor helped Blythe to feel whole again. They have this immediate connection that somehow feels right.

“I have never felt as close to anyone as I do to Chris. It is not from the amount of time we have spent together, but from the strength of the unquestionable bond we share.”

The more she gets to know Chris, however, the more she realizes that he is also harboring pain from his past. He won’t open up about it, but somehow, he carries the pain with him, so deeply buried.

I loved watching them fall in love. Despite their immediate connection, it happens slowly, with time and through each moment they share. They were so absolutely perfect for each other, so connected, so right… I totally felt it.

“He leans into me and kisses me again. Harder this time. He tastes like eternity, and healing, and completion.
No one else could ever kiss me like this, of that I am positive.
I could breathe in him forever.
I could fall in love forever.”

When we finally learn more about what happened to Blythe, my heart completely broke and hurt for her. The way it all unfolds, the pain was palpable and I held my breath as I read through those scenes. Christopher again was there for her 100%. He just knew exactly what to do for Blythe.

“Being with you let me feel, feel everything, and I needed that. I remembered better with you, I healed better with you, and you made… you made everything real.”

We also learn eventually about what happened to Chris and again, I was left breathless. Jessica Park really did an amazing job at making us feel these scenes mind, body and soul. It hurt big time. I was absolutely shattered and outraged over what happened.

And then, as if we hadn’t experienced enough heartache, Jessica Park throws in a twist that absolutely and totally killed me. I couldn’t believe it. I was so hurt. I was mad. I felt completely betrayed right along with Blythe. But mostly, I was really mad. It was a total shock that the story took this turn and I just couldn’t believe that it was happening after everything that had transpired.

“You are the great love of my life that I’m never going to have.”

I was literally glued to the page, until the very end. Thankfully, it did have a happy ending (huge sigh of relief). This book was just a really powerful, well-structured story which left me reeling in terms of how entwined everything was and how it all fell together. It was almost as if it were destined to be. In addition to Blythe and Christopher’s story, I also loved how Blythe became part of the Shepherd family. A tight-knit group of siblings that embrace her and love her. And although each one of them is also flawed and struggling in their own ways, they were all there for each other until the very end. I absolutely loved that.

This was a really wonderful book that exceeded my expectations and I definitely recommend it! A powerful, emotional, moving and honest story.

“I guess I liked the idea that… well, that there might be some kind of larger meaning to life.. the idea of fate and destiny. An interconnectedness and purpose in life.”

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