Girl Underwater: A Novel. Claire Kells. Dutton. March 2015. 304 pp. ISBN#: 9780525954934.
Avery Delacorte is an accomplished swimmer, a 19 year-old young woman who has excelled in her sport beyond high school into college. Still, she’s a typical gal when it comes to romance and Colin Shea, a college friend, has always encouraged her to move beyond her current level of competition. So far she has refused but that is all about to change.
On her flight home to Colorado, she realizes that the plane she’s on is about to crash land in the Rocky Mountains area. Five members of the flight initially survive, Avery, Colin and three young boys. In the beginning, it doesn’t seem so bad as the group eat the remainder of the snacks they find, attempting to build a type of hut to survive the bitterly cold and snowy weather they know will come soon, and so on. But the tough part of their journey is yet to come.
No spoilers here but suffice to say when they are finally rescued, they aren’t together. All have serious physical injuries and the post-traumatic syndrome they each suffer is very real. Claire Kells has got it down pat the way she depicts Avery’s long road back to a semblance of normalcy. At times she tries to convince everyone she’s fine and at other times she’s still physically falling apart and trying to deal with a secret she shares with no one. She will eventually meet up with Colin and several secrets will come out and their relationship will be very different from what it was before their nightmare crash.
Girl Underwater… is a superb contemporary novel about surviving and a love that defies description because of what it has endured. It is said that the young are resilient which in this novel is true but only after each survivor tells his or her story and shares the process of healing and growing into a new life in which one moves on but will never forget the most traumatic, definitive crisis one could ever experience.
Fine writing, Claire Kells, and highly recommended for readers of all ages!