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Underwater: A Novel by Marisa Reichardt
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Underwater: A Novel

by Marisa Reichardt

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A very slow paced read, Underwater was really different to what I was expecting. From the title alone I was expecting a story about some sort of tragedy involving water but that's not it at all.

The main character is Morgan who has agoraphobia and is suffering with panic attacks and anxiety. The reader is stuck inside Morgan's head as she comes to terms with a mysterious traumatic event that changed her life. The traumatic event in question was heartbreaking as expected and not something I could ever imagine going through. The plot is character focused and very slow in parts as the boring minutiae of Morgan's life as a shut in is repetitively examined.

Water is a central theme as Morgan used to be a talented swimmer for her school's swim team and she lives near the ocean. Her later love interest is also a water baby and loves to surf. It was also raining the day of the mysterious life changing event.

There is a romance in this book which didn't feel particularly realistic either. Dare I say it, but I found the story to be pretty boring. It is a great exploration of mental health issues after a traumatic event but I didn't really find it compelling. Luckily it was under 300 pages as I would have definitely DNF'd it if it was longer.

A pretty average read, can't say I would recommend it as there was really nothing about it that made the read worthwhile for me. ( )
  4everfanatical | Sep 28, 2016 |
Violence at any age does a number on people. Violence, coupled with guilt is even worse, but add in the stress of being part of a financially with a mentally ill parent, as well as having a perfectionist streak and you've got a perfect storm. Meet Morgan. She did something intended as an act of kindness on the last day she went to school and has been unable to forgive herself or anyone else since.
School shootings are sadly common these days, but what do we know about the effects on the surviving kids? In Underwater, the author introduces us to someone who thought she could handle the aftermath of a massacre at her school, but the longer she tried to get on with life, the more her world shrank until it consisted of her family's apartment. She gave up her best friends, competitive swimming and life in general, rerunning scenes from the horrific day at school in between her online classes.
When Evan moves into the adjacent apartment with his mother, Morgan is conflicted. He looks hot, but kind, a combination she's not used to. He won't let her ignore him, in part because of a connection they have that she never knew about. She's also working with Brenda, a therapist with a tough exterior, but a compassionate and understanding interior who hints at having similarities to Morgan.
When her kindergartener brother gets a part in a school play, his eagerness to have her attend the performance creates a whole new level of stress. In addition is the pain and uncertainty generated by her father's own PTSD and alcoholism after five tours in military war zones. He's vanished again and this hurts because Morgan has lots of memories of how great he was when she was little.
It takes love, kindness and some real pushing by Evan and Brenda in order for Morgan to finally look at her role in the tragedy and what she can do to regain her life. The process isn't easy and seldom follows a straight line, but neither does real life.
Marisa has done a wonderful job of using the events of that day as well as other aspects of each characters' life to show readers successive layers in order to keep them in the moment and hooked on what happens next. This is a great book for both school and public libraries to have in their collection. ( )
  sennebec | Mar 2, 2016 |
UNDERWATER by MARISA REICHARDT is a powerful story of tragedy, recovery, and reconnection with the world.

After a traumatic experience, Morgan is unable to leave her apartment. With the help of a new neighbor, a therapist, and her family, she begins to takes slow steps into the outside world. Along the way, she learns to forgive others and herself.

The author effectively peels away the layers of Morgan’s life-altering experience to reveal the tragic story behind her agoraphobia.

Librarians will find that readers enjoy the realistic, contemporary story with a hint of romance. This character-driven young adult novel draws attention to a variety of issues from PTSD to school shootings making it a timely choice for today’s teen audience.

To learn more about the author, go to http://www.marisareichardt.com/.

Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan on January 12, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher. ( )
  eduscapes | Feb 11, 2016 |
UNDERWATER tells the story of a young woman who is a survivor of a school shooting. Seven months later she is still unable to leave her apartment, has an emergency stash of pills for panic attacks, and is afraid that she will never get her life back. She meets twice a week with a psychologist who makes house calls. She has a very supportive mother and a Kindergarten brother that she adores. However, her father is not present. He has descended into alcohol addiction and abandoned his family after five deployments in Afghanistan. Morgan is afraid that she will be like him.

When a new boy moves in next door, Morgan begins to make tentative steps. First, letting him into the apartment and gradually being able to leave the apartment. But, for every two steps forward, there is also a step back. She and Evan argue when an episode has her spending hours just laying on the floor of the apartment. Evan is also dealing with the tragedy. His cousin was one of the shooter's victims. He and his mother have come to California from Hawaii so that they can support his grieving aunt.

Morgan was active, outgoing, a straight-A student, and on the swim team. Now she spends her days watching TV and going to high school online. Any mention of the events of October 15 can send her into a panic attack. This was a wonderful story of a young girl who is fighting to recover. Along the way she learns that she has to forgive herself and forgive the shooter who changed her life forever. ( )
  kmartin802 | Nov 15, 2015 |
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Ever since the mass shooting at her California high school, junior Morgan Grant has become increasingly agoraphobic until even the idea of stepping outside her door can bring on a panic attack, a situation not made any easier by the fact that her parents are divorced--but when Evan moves in next door she finds herself attracted to him and begins to find herself longing for the life she has been missing.… (more)

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