Avery expected a smooth flight from California to Boston, but then she awakens to find her fellow passengers screaming and the plane losing altitude. Six of them would make it off the plane when it crashed somewhere in the Rockies and for five harrowing days they would try their best to survive through winter storms and near starvation.
When Avery awakens again, it is December 10th and she is recuperating in a Colorado hospital. Everyone says she’s one of the lucky ones. Avery does everything she can to get on with her life and goes out of her way to avoid discussing what happened during those awful days in the mountains, but for this once driven college swimmer nothing can ever be the same.
Girl Underwater is a majorly fabulous debut. Kells pretty immediately lets the reader know that Avery survives the crash, switching the narrative back and forth between the crash and the aftermath. What we don’t know is exactly what happened while she and the other survivors were stranded awaiting rescue.
Avery is a great character and one conveniently skilled at survival, but Kells does a quite convincing job of making this aspect of Avery’s life believable. What Avery is less prepared for is making it through what comes later. She finds herself plagued by fears, particularly when it comes to returning to school and the swim team. She’s also plagued by guilt. Hers is a story not only of survival but of love and friendship and of the courage it takes to make it against the odds as well as the courage it takes to rely on others.
5/15 Becky Lejeune
GIRL UNDERWATER by Claire Kells. Dutton (March 31, 2015). ISBN 978-0525954934. 304p.