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UNDERWATER by Marisa Reichardt


by Marisa Reichardt

Age Range: 14 - 18

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-374-36886-9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Confined to her apartment for four months by crippling panic attacks, Morgan tries to recuperate from the school shooting she witnessed, but her fear of the world’s unpredictable dangers hampers her efforts.

Morgan seems to embrace the safety of her isolated apartment routine: online classes, the same lunch every single day, and TV until her mother and brother return home in the evenings. Still, when prompted by her psychologist, Brenda, to describe what summer means to her, Morgan immediately conjures an evocative list of sensations—from “crisp ocean water” to “bonfire smoke” and “cold beer and warm kisses”—illustrating how deeply she still desires the outside world. Morgan’s entrapment powerfully illustrates how, left unchecked, fear and trauma can eventually dictate a person’s behaviors. But Morgan’s mother, brother, Brenda, and her new neighbor Evan all offer equally compelling support that helps Morgan understand how continuously embracing small positive changes—even just a few steps outside of the apartment door—will eventually lead her to a perspective in which she has been changed by her traumatic experiences but is no longer controlled by them. Subplots involving a potential romance and her father’s PTSD aren’t strictly necessary, but they also don’t detract much from the intensely personal truths of Morgan’s growing understanding of her own recovery.

A moving, reflective exploration of grief, trauma, and how individuals find their paths toward resilience. (Fiction. 14-18)