learning not to drown.
Publisher Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 1,2014
Genre:YA Mystery Thriller|Psychology
Family secrets cut to the bone in this mesmerizing debut novel about a teen whose drug-addicted brother is the prodigal son one time too many.
There is a pecking order to every family. Seventeen-year old Clare is the overprotected baby; Peter is the typical, rebellious middle child; and Luke is the oldest, the can’t-do-wrong favorite. To their mother, they are a normal, happy family.
To Clare, they are a family on the verge of disaster. Clare: the ambitious striver; Peter: the angry ticking time bomb; and Luke: a drug-addicted convicted felon who has been in and out of jail for as long as Clare can remember—and who has always been bailed out by their parents.
Clare loves Luke, but life as his sister hasn’t been easy. And when he comes home (again), she wants to believe this time will be different (again). Yet when the truths behind his arrests begin to surface, everything Clare knows is shaken to its core. And then Luke is arrested. Again.
Except this time is different, because Clare’s mom does the unthinkable on Luke’s behalf, and Clare has to decide whether turning her back on family is a selfish act…or the only way to keep from drowning along with them.
You never know what to expect from a debut novel, you don’t have high expectations. When I came across Learning Not To Drown I wasn’t sure what to expect. It ended up being one of most intense, heartbreaking debuts I read this year. Learning Not To Drown was unique, incredible debut that took my breath away. It’s a story about family, safety, choices and how those choices can affect everyone around you. Choices, that’s what Clare had live with most of her life, when it came to her older brother Luke. Like Clare I couldn’t understand how her parents could choose Luke, who was constantly in jail over her. Clare did everything they asked her for and it still wasn’t good enough for her. I didn’t understand her parents. I could tell from cover that it was going be an intense novel but I didn’t realize how much. It does fit the story well, that’s what Clare spent most of her life, along with Peter, trying not to drown. My heart broke for Clare for most of the book. The novel left me speechless.
Luke, what is there to say about him? He had issues, big ones but I didn’t realize how bad till almost the end. Right from start I had mixed feelings about him. He seemed to be the only one in entire family who treated Clare like a person. I could tell that she looked up to him. I know that it was hard for her to believe what he did, when she found out truth about why he was in jail so many times. She tried deny it, till Peter told her the truth but someone had to. Other times I knew he wouldn’t change, I saw violence in him. How he stabbed Peter with fork when he accidently hurt Clare. I think that was first time Clare realized how violent he was. At times I wonder how Clare didn’t see it sooner, or maybe she pretended not to see it. Now Peter, at first I didn’t like because of how he treated Clare, but as book progressed, I started to. Once I found the secret he kept all this years, I felt sorry for him. After that secret, I wanted for Luke end up in jail.
Clare’s parents were my least favorite in here, especially her mother. She didn’t treat her daughter like one, I had my doubts if she actually loved her or not. Once she took the money out of her account, I was furious with her. She knew that what Luke did was wrong but she still wanted to bail him out? I don’t understand her, can’t they see if they keep bailing him out, that he would hurt others? I was glad to see when Clare finally stood up to her mother, to her parents and had them see the truth about their son. I was glad to see her finally stop letting her mom control her life. I noticed that her and Peter got bit closer, since Luke went to jail, since he was convicted. They need each other.
Learning Not To Drown is most heartbreaking novel. It’s a type of novel that you will find yourself thinking about afterwards. I did. I couldn’t help but wonder what happened with everyone. A debut worth picking up.