THE GIRL WHO COULD BREATHE UNDER WATER by ERIN BARTELS

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a positive review.*

Struggling to write her second novel, Kendra Brennan returns to the place where she spent her childhood summers. The place where the events behind That Summer occurred. The place where she now looks for answers and healing.

If you are looking for a cozy, feel good story, this book is not for you. There is a certain melancholy that shrouds a large portion of the story and uncomfortable topics are discussed.  About halfway through, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the book. The main character started to come across as misleading and unreliable in the story she was telling. But I kept reading. I began to realize that was kind of the point. This book is very much about self-discovery and how Kendra begins to see the gray in all the events of her past that led up to the present. How things aren’t black and white. How, as her Disappointed Reader says, “that in someone else’s story you’re the antagonist.” This is definitely a book that makes you think and reflect and, in the end, was a rather interesting story. There were twists and turns and a good deal of mystery even beyond the major event that Kendra focuses on. This book nudges us to look beyond ourselves. And while it is not a story with a perfectly happy ending, it encourages us that there is hope and healing in our journeys.

I do feel there is something missing in this story, which is why I left it at 4 stars. There were certain areas that could have used more time, in my opinion. I wanted to dive deeper into some of the secondary characters, like her mom and even Scott. I would have even liked a bit more of Tyler’s story. His perspective is dumped quite quickly in one scene, which is a large contrast to the build up of his actions in the first half of the story.


Overall, though, I think it is a well-crafted novel, especially given how many characters and stories are being woven together. The timing of revelations is key in these types of books and I believe the author accomplished that.