Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Book Talk: Underwater by Marisa ReichardtUnderwater by Marisa Reichardt
Published by Farrer Straus and Giroux on January 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Morgan survived a horrible tragedy — one that she feels partly guilty for because of an act of kindness she did that day. Racked with fear and guilt, Morgan has not been able to leave apartment she shares with her mom and brother and truly move forward after everything that happened. She’s lost her friends, attends high school via the internet and her therapist comes to her home once a week to try to work through this with her. And then Evan moves in next door and she’s confronted with the life that she’s missing and his presence starts to stir in her a desire to see the outside world again.

a2Very heavy book, oof. Need something happy next!!


One of the worst feelings is finishing a book and just not really feeling what you know you probably should have. Which is really sad because there were moments in this book that were great and really affected me.   I should be overwhelmed with emotional connection given the content of this novel but I just wasn’t in the grand scheme when I finished. In small moments, yes. I was there. But when I finished I was like I was left wanting more overall.

I was immediately intrigued by Morgan’s story (though not at all into her inner monologue at first — the writing took some getting used to but it felt in line with where she was at). I wanted to know why she didn’t leave her apartment anymore. What happened to cause this? We learn VERY early on part of what happens which wasn’t really hard to guess but I liked there was still more to that day than Morgan allowed us to know right away. I could totally understand why she had such PTSD and fear and anxiety. I often wonder about real life tragedies like this and cannot fathom how witnesses and survivors even move forward so I was really interested by Morgan’s POV and her journey through processing, healing and moving on from something that is unfortunately all too common these days. View Spoiler »

I appreciated how the author explored PTSD and extreme anxiety and fear after a tragedy. I loved the combination of counseling and medication that was presented as part of Morgan’s therapy. I really, really loved Morgan’s counselor. She was great! The times I was most connected to Morgan was in these moments of growth. Those teeny tiny baby steps. I felt the strength and the bravery she needed to do some of these things and I was with her when sometimes it was too much. The ups and downs of her healing are what had me here. And especially after we are allowed to know the WHOLE story of what happened that tragic day — my heart hurt for Morgan with this blame and guilt she had carried around since that day. I understood why maybe it affected her in ways in didn’t others.

I wanted to love the romance in this book, which is a big thread, but I just didn’t. I was there for Morgan’s healing but I didn’t always enjoy how much I felt like HE was tied to it. Sure, she did the hard work to make strides in her recovery and had found the will to do it but I couldn’t help but feel like he was a huge part of it from the beginning — someone she barely knew. And I think I would have been okay if this guy was just the catalyst for all this because she was confronted by LIFE when he came around and she saw all she was missing out on. But it felt too much like he was so much of why she was working toward to get better and that just isn’t always my thing. And I’ll be honest, in theory, he was a sweet guy but I never felt that connection the way so many other people clearly have. I almost would have rather them have a friendship. The spark was dull for me and I think the impact would have been greater for me sans romance.



factors+ how I cared about Morgan to keep turning those pages, writing, exploration of PTSD/grief/fear/guilt after a tragedy
–  the romance (didn’t FEEL it, also felt like it overpowered a bit with what was a great story when there wasn’t even really that huge of a connection between them), wished I had felt MORE

Should you read it? If you like heavy contemporary YA with romance, I’d say yes. If that’s not your thing, it’s not one of those I’m going to be like BUT THIS IS THE EXCEPTION EVERYONE MUST READ IT BC IT IS SO POWERFUL.

Should you buy it or borrow it? For me it’s a borrow. For me to recommend buying it, it means I would personally re-read it or it was a favorite.

a5fans of heavier contemporary YA (this has smile inducing moments but it deals with some heavy stuff), fans of Jennifer Brown’s Hate List (though I thought that one was better to be honest but that could be just me because everyone else is raving about this one)

a8Underwater is a heavy book that explores the main character’s response to a tragic event that she survived and her recovery from all this PTSD, fear, guilt, anxiety that she experienced in the aftermath. It was hard to watch the ups and downs of her recovery but I was rooting for Morgan the whole time. I wasn’t smitten with the romance because I just never got that spark I was supposed to between them and honestly it kind of felt like he was more than just a catalyst for her tremendous growth but a big motivation — which I could have done without personally given I didn’t FEEL the affections between them and how they fell for each other so quickly.



a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?



The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Great review. I probably won’t go out looking to buy it, because I don’t think I am ready for a heavy book right now but I loved how thorough this review is.

  2. “One of the worst feelings is finishing a book and just not really feeling what you know you probably should have.” I tend to find that with books that deal with heavy stuff, if I don’t feel emotional right away after reading them they still sometimes come back to haunt me later. Do you know what I mean? Do you think that’s likely with this text?
    Also I hate when romance is just tacked on, as if it’s an after thought. Ugh. Do it or don’t, but don’t half do it.

  3. This was one of my favorite books I read last year (I was lucky to get an ARC). I suffer from panic disorder and I thought the author wrote the anxiety and recovery very well! And YES, it’s awful when you don’t feel how you think you supposed to feel after finishing a book, it’s quite frustrating. Great review! 🙂