Author: Marisa Reichardt
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Source: Review Copy
Publication Date: 7th April 2016
“Forgiving you will allow me to forgive myself.” 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.
Oh this book. This beautiful, beautiful book. Underwater has secured itself a snug little space up there with my favourite books of all time. This book broke me and built me back up again. How on earth is this a debut? It's absolutely stunning and such a perfect and sensitive portrayal of what it is to suffer with panic attacks and agoraphobia. I don't even know where to start with this review except to say that the first thing I did after finishing this book was to hug it to myself. Underwater is absolutely jam packed with emotion, intrigue and love and I just loved it so very much.
Underwater follows the life of Morgan as she suffers through her panic attacks, agoraphobia and anxiety following a traumatic event at her school several months earlier. We gradually learn about what happened at her school and at the guilt that she harbors. The reveal is slow and torturous, which only added to the book. I felt Morgan's pain so very clearly and the drawing out of the reveal felt like she was finally letting us in and trusting us, just as she is her councilor. As someone who has personally suffered with a panic and anxiety disorder and was agoraphobic, I related to this book so much. Events are different but all of the emotions that Morgan experiences were so very real, from the beginning to the path to recovery. It invoked all of the emotions and I really wanted to wrap her up and hug her.
An aspect which I didn't expect to love as much as I did was the introduction of Evan. When I first read this on the synopsis, I'll admit that I did have a little eye roll moment, but I take that eye roll back x100000! Evan was everything that he needed to be in this book. He was there for Morgan when she needed him the most. He was a rock and, I don't want to say to much and spoil anything, but he is such a solid, present figure and we all know how important it is to have someone that cares about you when you're having a tough time. I finished this book wanting more from these characters. I didn't want to let them go. I wanted to know more, I wanted to follow them further. I wasn't ready to let go of this beautiful story.
Underwater brought out so much emotion in me. Reading this on the tube was such a bad idea - the constant tearing up was a tough one to hide. I couldn't recommend this book and I'm so happy that more and more YA novels are tackling tough topics such as mental health. This is a stunning debut; please do pick it up!