Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: LEARNING NOT TO DROWN

Hello! I don't have an MG book to share with you today, but I do have a YA book that I recently read and loved! I heard about it through a blog, but I don't remember which one.

I present to you...LEARNING NOT TO DROWN by Anna Shinoda!


My summary:

Clare's family has their skeletons. One of them is Luke, the oldest child, who just got out of jail. Clare has always loved Luke, but her life is becoming difficult as Luke falls back into his dangerous habits. Everyone in their town knows about Luke's problems, casting a stain upon the whole family.

As Clare learns more about Luke and what he's done, she realizes there is more to the story. She finds herself being pulled into two different directions, and she needs to figure out if she can move away from the forces pulling her down, even if it means turning away from her family.

Goodreads says:

Family secrets cut to the bone in this mesmerizing debut novel about a teen whose drug-addicted brother is the prodigal son one time too many.

There is a pecking order to every family. Seventeen-year old Clare is the overprotected baby; Peter is the typical, rebellious middle child; and Luke is the oldest, the can’t-do-wrong favorite. To their mother, they are a normal, happy family.


To Clare, they are a family on the verge of disaster. Clare: the ambitious striver; Peter: the angry ticking time bomb; and Luke: a drug-addicted convicted felon who has been in and out of jail for as long as Clare can remember—and who has always been bailed out by their parents.


Clare loves Luke, but life as his sister hasn’t been easy. And when he comes home (again), she wants to believe this time will be different (again). Yet when the truths behind his arrests begin to surface, everything Clare knows is shaken to its core. And then Luke is arrested. Again.


Except this time is different, because Clare’s mom does the unthinkable on Luke’s behalf, and Clare has to decide whether turning her back on family is a selfish act…or the only way to keep from drowning along with them.


My review:

This book is extremely powerful, and I am very glad I read it. I wish I remembered who recommended it to me because she deserves some credit. At the very least, she should get a big THANK YOU.

LEARNING NOT TO DROWN left me breathless and in awe. The story was wonderful, and Anna did a great job of putting the reader through the same emotions Clare went through. There was a great combination of inner and outer conflict. I often find that books with both inner and outer conflict can become unbalanced, but LEARNING NOT TO DROWN did not fit into that category. It did a great job of allowing both to have their part in the story.

I enjoyed meeting all of Anna's characters, especially Luke and Clare. All the characters were very well done. I wish I had seen more on Clare's peers. It was acknowledged that her peers had issues too, and I wish that aspect of the book had been expanded upon. However, I am conflicted about this view; I do recognize that doing so would have complicated the story and made it less powerful.

I think that there should have been a little bit more shared about the town. I felt that I didn't have a great feeling regarding the area Clare grew up in. Enough was shared to allow the reader to follow along, but I wanted a little bit more, just so I could get a better idea of Clare's world.

An excellent read. I recommend it to YA readers looking for an influential book with great writing and a wonderful plot.

4.5 stars out of 5.

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