Wednesday, January 19, 2022

THE GIRL THAT COULD BREATHE UNDERWATER by Erin Bartels, Reviewed by Paula and Rebecca

After reading the author notes, I was prepared for some trigger situations. It seemed like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and I had a lot of trepidation while reading most of the book. This story seems to be a catharsis for the author. Putting that aside, it was very well written with some beautiful descriptive passages: “As I brushed through the tall grass and wildflowers, a flood of familiar smells--wet sand and crushed mint and something sweet I have never been able to identify--washed over me in gentle lapping waves of memory.”

This was a thought provoking book: “Truth has a way of working itself into any story, whether the writer means it or not.” It also was a great glimpse into the writing process of the main character, Kendra, an author who had a best seller and is trying to write book #2. There was a mysterious aspect in that Kendra was trying to find out who had written her a letter signed A Very Disappointed Reader. Several mysteries unfold as we get to know the characters.

My favorite characters were Ike, an old WWII veteran who told many stories and dispensed wisdom, and Andreas, who was translating Kendra’s book into German. Andreas provided a stabilizing influence on Kendra in her search for truth. Kendra had to find answers to many questions in order to re-establish relationships and define who she really was and move forward. In the end it was a tender love story and a tale of healing.

I would consider this to be a moderately clean read with some possible triggers for those who are sensitive to such. It was not written from a clear Christian perspective.

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*

4 stars and a moderately clean read

"Once there was a girl who could breathe under water . . . "

The words to an unfinished story. Much like the life of the one who wrote them.

Novelist Kendra Brennan's first and only manuscript to date was a best seller, so naturally her fans (and publisher, and editor) were clamoring for more. At least most of her fans; one person's anonymous letter sends Kendra scrambling back to where it all began, her grandfather's cabin on the shores of Hidden Lake . . . hoping for respite, for inspiration, and quite possibly for closure.

"Your book . . . is the work of a selfish opportunist who was all too ready to monetize the suffering of others. Did you ever consider . . . "

Maybe she hadn't considered, for you see, the book characterized truth for the ones who knew . . . perhaps Kendra had been just a bit too realistic, one of her fictional counterparts had recognized their role and wasn't happy about it . . . nor should they be . . . right? Her memories surrounding summers on the lake with her grandfather and friends got a little fuzzy when she overthought them. Those experiences were the best and the worst of her life, which is why she stopped going in the first place. Now she's back. Her grandfather is no longer living and Kendra is . . . living with a deadline looming for her second novel and writer's block sitting squarely in her brain. Would confrontation erase those ugly words from her head?

What an interesting story . . . about life, about friendships, about convoluted relations, about brokenness, about forgiveness, about love. . . the right kind, the honest kind, the forever kind. Everyone suffers when there are secrets. And every secret holder needs someone who will believe their story.
*I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

BackCover Blurb:
The best fiction simply tells the truth.
But the truth is never simple.

When novelist Kendra Brennan moves into her grandfather's old cabin on Hidden Lake, she has a problem and a plan. The problem? An inflammatory letter from A Very Disappointed Reader. The plan? To confront Tyler, her childhood best friend's brother--and the man who inspired the antagonist in her first book. If she can prove that she told the truth about what happened during those long-ago summers, perhaps she can put the letter's claims to rest and meet the swiftly approaching deadline for her next book.

But what she discovers as she delves into the murky past is not what she expected. While facing Tyler isn't easy, facing the consequences of her failed friendship with his sister, Cami, may be the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

Plumb the depths of the human heart with this emotional exploration of how a friendship dies, how we can face the unforgivable, and how even those who have been hurt can learn to love with abandon.

Revell Publishing, January, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy THE GIRL THAT COULD BREATHE UNDERWATER at Amazon,, and Baker Book House 

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