Drowning is Inevitable
Author: Shalanda Stanley
Expected Publication: September 8th, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: e-ARC, 170 pages
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Read: September 2015
I received an e-ARC of this book from Knopf Books for Young Readers and Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,” shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.
In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to a unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.
Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
The plot is really hard to explain. It’s very hard to wrap your head around all the things that happen. It’s dramatic, dangerous, intense and emotional. Something new is always bombarding you, there’s no relief at all from it and it took me off guard. It’s important for me to mention that the plot deals with death, drugs, physical abuse and underage drinking.
Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
In the beginning, it was really hard to get used to. It kind of jumped all over the place and with a very strange pace. It was simple, but it carried a lot more depth and dram in every sentence than I was used to and it was right off the bat and it really surprised me. It was something to get used to. I’m still not sure if I liked it or hated it or not, pretty much feel like that about the whole book.
Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I have no idea what to say about the characters. There are quite a few of them and they are all very complex but in kind of a negative way. They’re all a little off. Our main character, Olivia, is really strange. She’s spent her whole life being someone else and it makes it so she doesn’t have a real identity. She’s closed off but at the same time, feels things very deeply and makes her very emotional. I kind of feel like she’s an unreliable narrator at times because she’s dramatic and honestly a bit unstable. I didn’t know what to make of her and her thought process half the time. She has a really close, incredibly close, insanely close relationship with her best friend, Jamie. They’ve been neighbors their entire life and would do anything for each other which is the central theme in this book. But he’s just as peculiar as she is. He’s very protective of her, but just as closed off or even more. He’s angry on the inside and it’s like a quiet force inside him. Even the supporting characters are intense. I don’t know what to make of them.
To be quite honest, throughout my reading experience, I was sure this would be 3 stars until I got to the end. But even with that, I still don’t know what to do with this book.
The plot is strange. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what happened the whole time. The beginning was confusing. It was a set up to see what the day to day life of our main character was but the whole thing was kind of off. I know I’ve been saying that this entire review, but I don’t know how else to describe it. We find out that Olivia’s mother killed herself after she was born and her grandmother has a mental issue where she confuses them so Olivia pretends to be her mother. We find out that her on again off again boyfriend Max got drunk and drove one night and they got in an accident so she has permanent scars for it. He’s been sober and repenting ever since, trying to get back together with her and telling her he loves her all the time and she never responds. We find out that her friend Jamie’s father is a drunk and he’s abusive to his mother. While he ignores Jamie, he cares more about the state of his mother and he’s incredibly angry at him all the time. We find out that Maggie’s mom is a drug addict who ditched them and though she inherited her talent from her, she’s going to New York to sing. All of this in the span of a few chapters.
The writing style turned me off from the beginning. It was all over the place and hard to follow. I felt like I couldn’t really believe the things that were going on and the writing style just seemed to keep them bogged down and even more complicated than they were. It all just made me feel weird.
The characters were all really complex but in a very negative way. There’s something a little wrong with all of them. Olivia and her obsession with her mother, Jamie and his obsession with the death of his father, Max with his obsession with Olivia and with having her love and Maggie with her obsession with not being like her mother. It was really unhealthy their dynamic, all of their dynamics and I just couldn’t wrap my head around them. I had a really hard time connecting with them, specially with Olivia. I’m supposed to know her the best and connect with her as she’s the narrator but she felt unreliable to me and I didn’t know how to feel about her.
Then we get to the climax. We get to the altercation in Jamie’s kitchen where he tries to protect his mom from his dad and Olivia tries to protect Jamie from his dad and Mr. Benton ends up dead. They decide the best choice of action is to run and they call Max, who arrives with Maggie and the four of them end up on the run from the cops and from their reality. At this point is where the story picks up some but things start happening that are just so out there. They get to New Orleans and go her Maggie’s mom’s friends house who gives them lodging because he’s supposed to be nice but then he makes them finish drug deals for him. Everything just seems so crazy and far fetched but it’s happening and I don’t know if that’s just the South or small towns or what but it really freaked me out.
Max calls his dad who says they can all get plea deals except for Jamie so they make a plan to get fake passports so Olivia and Jamie can run and Max and Maggie can go back home but then the deal doesn’t work and they get into a fight with a drug dealer who’s looking for the reward for capturing them and in the struggle Jaime ends up dead on the sidewalk. It hits Olivia incredibly hard. She has a very strong connection with him, she describes it like a cord that connects them together and when he dies, it feels like a hole in her stomach.
And that’s why this book has four stars for me. Although critically I found a lot of flaws and I didn’t understand half the things that were going on, this is a very deep story about loss and friendship. How it shapes us, how to move on from it and how it affects our life choices. I got teary and I didn’t expect to at all. I felt so disconnected throughout the whole thing so imagine my surprise when I started to cry at Jamie’s funeral. The story has a really deep message hiding underneath all the craziness and extra mumbo jumbo. If only that would’ve been straighten out, this could’ve been a five star book for me.
Thanks so much for reading! I’m sorry it’s all so incoherent but I’m still not 100% clear on my thoughts of this book. Let me know what you think of my review! See you on my next post!