Book 459: Girl Underwater – Claire Kells

kells-claire-girl-underwaterI’m not one to generally read debut novels unless I hear from a friend that it’s great. However, with all of the great books coming out of Dutton recently, when they reached out to me about this one and I was intrigued by the blurb, I of course said yes.*

This being said, I of course probably should’ve re-read the blurb on the back before I started, but I didn’t and it was a bit of a shocker to all of a sudden be thrown into a plane crash! But if I would’ve re-read the blurb I would’ve remembered that it was set in Boston, and a large part of my excitement reading the book would’ve been lost! Thankfully, it was well written and interesting AND I got to experience the Boston portions as if I had NO idea (because I didn’t) that they were there! Seriously, she spent a half page on Anna’s Taqueria! [Anna’s website] Swoon!

It’s hard to say what I liked about this book because there was so much I enjoyed. I didn’t adore all of it, but I enjoyed a lot of it. Kell’s descriptions were incredibly evocative, and not just because those of Boston/Brookline/Dorchester were accurate.

“Colin drives like a local: confident but a little unpredictable. Avoiding one way streets where there probably shouldn’t be one. Ignoring the intersections where three out of four of the intersecting streets have the same name. Dodging surface trains and random crosswalks.” (197)

Her descriptions of nature were just as powerful as her descriptions of city:

“Then there’s the climate: storms, snow, wind. Sunburn. Windburn. Dehydration. Exposure. Hypothermia. The sun looms over us like a giant eye in the sky, daring us to survive undetected. It feels like mockery. No matter how many coats and blankets and toothbrushes we find, we won’t survive a blizzard in the Rockies. There are no ski lifts, no resorts bathing the landscape in a warm, welcoming light. This is the kind of wilderness no one comes to visit, the kind of lake no one ever swims in. We’re the intruders, and we have nowhere to hide.” (61)

What really got me though, was Kells’ writing of Avery’s being torn between Lee and Colin. It’s pretty obvious from the beginning so I don’t consider it a spoiler, but who she is going to end up with kept me going the ENTIRE book. I remember talking to a coworker about it (who I passed the book on to) and all I said was, the characters aren’t doing what I want and they need to because romance. She looked at me like I was off, but I don’t care what I wanted needed to happen.

There were some things like the last few pages before the epilogue and some of the over-the-top descriptions that could’ve been done better but when taken into account that this is a debut novel, I can’t fault the writing.

Recommendation: Aside from yet another “girl” book, which I’m glad I decided not to talk about, this was a great read. I enjoyed the urban-rural juxtaposition and I thoroughly enjoyed the push and pull of the love story. I will definitely have to keep an eye on Claire Kells if she keeps writing.

*The publisher sent me a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion, no money or goods were exchanged.

Opening Line: “I’ve always loved the water.”

Closing Line: “And jumps.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)

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6 thoughts on “Book 459: Girl Underwater – Claire Kells

    • It’s definitely one of the great perks of living in a bigger city now it happens so much more often. I still get nostalgic though when I read books about NC.

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