Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

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Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Moving look at a young girl dealing with the aftermath of having been involved in a school shooting. Relatable and hopeful, it's a clear-sighted and rewarding read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: April 2016
Publisher: Macmillan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1447287363

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Morgan has a post-it note in her apartment:

1. Breathe
2. You are okay
3. You are not dying

And if you had escaped a school shooting alive, you might need a note like this too, right?

People died. Kids died. Friends died. And afterwards, Morgan's school closed for a while. Morgan started attending a new school but it was just too much for her. She retreated to her apartment, enrolled at an online high school and didn't leave. Morgan hasn't crossed the threshold for months. If she only stays inside then she's safe. And a shut-in's life has a rhythm. Morgan's day is predictable: daytime TV, online school, grilled cheese and soup for lunch, visits from her therapist. And Mom and little brother Ben to liven up the evenings.

And then, one day, Evan moves in next door. Evan, a surfer from Hawaii, reminds Morgan, the ex-swimmer, of what life was like before the shooting. Even, perhaps, what life could be like again.

Marisa Reichardt's incredibly sensitive story follows Morgan as she takes slow and stuttering steps towards rejoining the world. It's a lot of two steps forward and one step back and Morgan finds it quite difficult to register any progress at all, so painful are the setbacks. But she has a supportive mother, a lovely little brother, a wise therapist and a new friend in Evan helping her through it. So Underwater is quite a hard and emotional read but it is a hopeful one, too. Healing is possible and time is your friend and I think Reichardt shows this very well.

I'm writing this review in the week of the 20th anniversary of the Dunblane school shooting in Scotland. It's the UK's only major school shooting. In a frightening comparison, there were twenty in the US in 2015 alone. Perhaps, for this reason, Underwater may read slightly differently to a UK audience than to a US one. Britons are unlikely to know anyone affected by a mass shooting and it hurts my heart to think that American kids are much more likely to. But we can all understand that any overwhelming tragedy can have terrible effects on the mental health of those left behind by it. And Morgan's story illuminates the journey.

Recommended.

From Where I Stand by Tabitha Suzuma also takes a tremendously moving look at a teenager suffering from mental ill health. Older readers might want to look at Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult which also deals with a school shooting. Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson is a fabulous and clear-sighted guide to mental health - and ill health for teens.

Buy Underwater by Marisa Reichardt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Underwater by Marisa Reichardt at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Underwater by Marisa Reichardt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Underwater by Marisa Reichardt at Amazon.com.


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