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Deep Water by Betsey Odell
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Deep Water

by Betsey Odell

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Sapphire Books Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Earlier this month I found myself looking at various options on Netgalley. Specifically at the books in the ‘Read Now’ section of the LGBT category. I noticed ‘Deep Water’, this book here, and noticed that it was a rerelease (I think). So I checked Amazon to see if there was a sample. And there was. So I started to read a tiny portion, then got dragged along to the end of the sample. Really, I was just going to read a few paragraphs to test the writing. But got pulled to end. So, naturally, I decided to ‘Read Now’.

And . . . something got messed up in the process. I couldn’t get the book to open on my Kindle, despite that being an option, and several attempts to download and send the book along.

Tried a new download last night and it worked. So, read the book today, as in the 28th of April, 2016 – not the today of whenever you are reading this review. Unless you are reading it on the 28th.

Characters
Mattison Burr is an 18 year old high school senior who starts the book on the edge of her senior year at high school in North Carolina. For unclear reasons, though potentially connected to her feelings for another girl and how she’d rather kill herself rather than tell her, the book also opens with Mattison trying to kill herself in a hurricane. She fails (I’m not being joke-y, I’ve read more than one book that involved someone who spent the majority of the book as a ghost). Mattison then proceeds to spend the rest of the book bouncing around kind of insanely, with a huge desire to lose her virginity. She’s unsure who to lose it to; and does not she really care. Just get rid of it already. Also, she’s not really sure if she likes girls, boys, or both.
Of Importance: twin brother Blake; love interest BFF Kym; boyfriend Stanley; new friend Samantha; two parents, one male, one female.

Kym Kascer is a high school senior who has moved a lot in her live. Her father is an ex-actor who may or may not be attempting to start a political career. Her mother may or may not be insane. She’s apparently straight though on the borderline. She’s a popular kid in school.
Of Importance: parents, Mattison.

Stanley is a new student at the school. And a senior. He fancies Mattison. Who fancies Kym. Who fancies Stanley.
Of Importance: unknown.

Blake Burr is a high school senior and Mattison’s twin. Slightly older by six minutes. Has a girlfriend. And is an art major (confused by that, do high schools have ‘degrees’ now?)
Of Importance: parents, twin Mattison, girlfriend Becca.

Samantha new senior at the high school. Makes Mattison wet her panties. Gives Mattison hand-made gifts despite only, apparently, talking to each other once.
Of Importance: parents.

Plot
Mattison’s senior year of high school is just about to start when the book opens. Also, her best friend forever has just moved back to town. So, Mattison tries to kill herself in a hurricane. The reasons are unclear. I’ve a vague feeling that she did that because she was beginning to have feelings of a sexual nature about another girl – and that’s just wrong. And she’d rather kill herself than tell the friend.

Since Mattison’s attempt failed, the book turns to scenes of school, mixed with drunken/drugged scenes of parties. And Mattison wetting her panties over boys and girls at both school and parties.

Mattison is in a kind of bad situation to be figuring out if she’s bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual. What with living in North Carolina and all. Land of bigots. At least according to current RL news coming out of North Carolina. And according to various people Mattison talks to. Her favorite teacher outright tells Mattison that “you can’t be successful and a dyke at the same time. . . who is going to hire you if you are a dyke?”

Still, Mattison doesn’t know what she is. Or what sex is. Or what two women together do. Or anything. So naturally she decides to hump both boys and girls. At the same time. What, is not spoiler, it’s in the book description. Actually, new paragraph needed.

My comment made me actually look at the book description. ‘Mattison develops an unhealthy girl crush on her best friend and rejects the boy her parents always dreamed she would be with.’ I’ve a feeling it’s more than just favorite teachers, parents, and North Carolina lawmakers who are bigots. ‘Unhealthy’ girl crush? Well, technically it is unhealthy. Not the girl crush, just the situation. Mattison is kind of insane; Kym shows every indication she prefers boys. Using ‘Unhealthy’ and having all these bigots in the book, doesn’t help matters though. Funnily enough that wasn’t the part I wanted to comment on. It was the ‘rejects the boy her parents always dreamed she would be with.’ WTF? The parents always dreamed she would be with Stanley? Always? Really? How? He just now arrived as a new student. How the fuck could the parents have always dreamed of him hooking up with their daughter? (and eww, seriously, eww, parents dreaming of their children’s sex lives? Eww; not the thinking about, but the dreaming about). Since I’m being nitpicky ‘Mattison Burr jumps off a pier’ . . . she did not jump off a pier. She got knocked into the ocean by . . um . . the wind? A runaway piece of wood? Something. She didn’t jump. Though she had planned to do so.

Right, sorry. Plot: girl goes to high school. As a senior. Girl tries to handle and deal with the concept that she might like girls. While she continues to also check out boys. The concept of lesbianism is shown, in the book, to be deeply disgusting to the people of her town; the concept of bisexuality, naturally, is unheard of.

Overall
This is a book that was all over the place. Mattison is kind of a hard person to follow, an odd mix of selfishness (two examples – she instigates a three-way sexcapade because she just needed to be with her BFF, and knew the only real way to bring that to reality was to involve a boy who the BFF wanted (and the boy wanted Mattison); while BFF’s life is imploding, Mattison ‘needs to connect to her now that’s she’s been traumatized and humiliated’ instead of, you know, needing to actually try to help her) and selflessness (she doesn’t like bullying, and when all the gym people are lined up to be weighed, and the mocking begins, Mattison stands up for the mocked one (though the mocked one is then, after Mattison stands up for them, shown to get red with embarrassment).

On one level, as a young woman of 18 who is unsure of her own sexual desires and nature, in a state that is apparently still quite bigoted – the somewhat ‘messed up’ and ‘crazy’ situation that is shown in this book is both somewhat kinda expected and seemed to be written well enough to show someone full of themselves attempting to look smart by using certain words and phrases, even if used incorrectly – a know it all teenager. On another level, and this is my own fault, I do not particularly like reading about messed up confused people – or at least, it isn’t my favorite thing to read. So the book was somewhat difficult to get through.

There were a few things that seemed vaguely odd, though, that occurred in this book. Mattison’s twin brother, Blake, is described as being an art major. When did high schools start having majors? Is that a North Carolina thing? Also, just one more example, Kym’s parents popping over to London for a bit, then popping back was treated as if they’d just moved a state over (as opposed to being in a country across an ocean). I do not know, I’m probably reading into things.

Two last thoughts – on the one hand, I like how Mattison didn’t actually, as I kind of expected to have happen at some point, come out as a lesbian – she came out to her parents, and others, but as someone interested in girls sexually (which is different than coming out as a lesbian, because it leaves the door open to her possibly being bisexual), on the other hand . . . um . . . I do not know why I started that off as ‘on the one hand’. Right, second last thought – people sure are bigoted in North Carolina, eh?

I would tentatively recommend this book, though only if the person understands what they are getting themselves into. They possibly could love the book or hate it. It seems to be that kind of book. Despite saying that, I find myself in the middle. At about 3 stars out of 5.

April 28 2016
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  Lexxi | Jun 26, 2016 |
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