Saturday, July 28, 2012

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick - Guest Post

Published: February 2012

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

Pages: 352

Copy: Library

Summary: Goodreads

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain... magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

This is a book of monsters. While some might say that there is only one true monster in the book (and I can almost guarantee it isn’t who you think), I have a feeling that Ms. Bick wrote this book to point out that people are not inherently good or evil. We’re all just people making good or bad choices. But still, this is a book of monsters, if only in the way of choices and situations that rear their ugly heads and come crashing back down to destroy whatever lays in their path.

I’m not normally a reader of contemporary fiction – reading is an escape for me, and that means magic, gadgets, creatures, outer space and more. But I put this on hold at the library because I loved Ms. Bick’s Ashes – it scared me half to death. And a few days after reading it, I was still unsettled. Without mentioning zombies, vampires, werewolves or ghosts, Drowning Instinct once again unsettled me.

Written as a narrative as Jenna tells her story to a police officer, we follow her through the twists and decisions that have led her to where we first meet her (dripping wet and freezing cold in an interrogation room). Her story is unfortunately one that probably isn’t far from many teenagers truths, and noting the triggers for actions and reactions is something Ms. Bick points out to us oh so subtly, in ways many writers cannot. Is it a happy story? Almost. Love is an overwhelming power house here – but it is love as a teenager feels it for the first time: all-conquering.  But the layers of fear and secrecy woven throughout (as well as disdain, which I think you can feel from Jenna’s rhetoric as she lays the story out for Bob – mostly in her cutting way of reminding him that no, Bob, I’m not giving you all the nitty gritty details) add a depth and mystery that can be missing from more upbeat contemporary fiction. In the end we’re left with resolution, but more questions. We’re left to decide the truth for ourselves, depending on where our allegiance lies (FYI, mine actually lies with Bob).
A great surprise for me – a contemporary fiction novel that I didn’t need to relate with to enjoy (although sadly, there are some aspects that I can relate to), characters that pushed the limits of tolerance for the reader (you want to love/like/hate almost everyone at some point) and an author who can breathe life into a simple, stunning, and sad teenage narrative.

Thanks again to Special K for this great review. We love you.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great book!

    I'm a new follower.