This is the second debut novel that I’ve read in the past few months. Coincidentally, a lot of books I’ve gotten from the library are debut novels. They fascinate me, because they’re an introduction to the type of writing that this author does, and the idea that got them noticed in the first place. Today’s review will be on the debut novel from Marisa Reichardt, called Underwater.

Underwater is narrated in first person by Morgan, a teenager who experienced a shooting at her high school. Since then, she has become completely withdrawn from the world, spending her days in her family’s apartment, completing her studies online, watching television and reflecting on feeling safe “underwater.” Her life is further complicated by the absence of her father, whom suffered from PTSD from being deployed. However, she finds solace in spending time with her younger brother Ben and seeing her therapist, Brenda.  When new guy Evan moves in next door, Morgan finds that he might be the key to helping her re-enter the life she once had and help her begin to recover.

This is the first novel I’ve read that involves a school shooting- a somewhat taboo subject that unfortunately has become commonplace in society. Although intense, I admit that it was refreshing to read a story that didn’t have the main source of the protagonist’s stress be divorce, moving to a new town, starting a new school, or other, similar cliches.

I like that Reichardt took a realistic perspective for Morgan. She  portrays her as a character who is getting help and who has good days and bad days. Everyday is not the same. Morgan is not somebody who magically feels better after just a few therapy sessions.

I look forward to reading more Reichardt’s work because she tackles touchy subjects with realism and isn’t afraid of writing characters who have realistic problems.

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