Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Unresolved plot and incoherent story-telling.

Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Cadlewick | ARC paperback, 191 pages
Imagine for a moment that you have the natural ability to bring out the truth in anyone; they can’t lie to you. They can tell you their secrets with very little encouragement and most of the time, none at all. You, on the other hand, is a closed lid. You frustrate your best friend because you don’t tell her things that are on the list of things you must tell your best friend. Things like, having the boy you like come over to your house and attempts to have sex with you numerous times and failing. Or that home is like a mine full of taut conversations and slammed doors brought on by resentments and a marriage on the fast lane to divorce city. How would you escape? For Maggie Paris, the way to silence everyone’s truths is by being in the water. Ironic, since, once upon a time, she couldn’t even bring herself to go near shower – let alone a bathtub full of water. Having witnessed her older sister’s drowning, she’d feared the water. But she faced her fear, took lessons and had become one of the best swimmers at her school.

Growing up with her ability meant a lonely existence. Once the people around her divulged their dark, deepest secrets, they stay away from her like she carries the bubonic plague. She has a tough time getting close to anyone; she walks around unhappy, lonely and burdened with guilt. It’s hard to figure out what Maggie really wants out of her life because as soon as she gives herself a chance to be happy, she goes and consciously makes herself unhappy. This is the story of how a teenager coped with the burden of guilt, ever present grief and an ability that’s more a curse than a blessing.

This book could’ve been one of those that would tug at your heart strings but sadly, all it evoked was a feeling of cold detachment for the characters. And even with the tragedy that had happened to her older sister when they were kids, this book failed to bring out emotions characteristic of a story dealing with death. It also suffered from a loosely-written plot that, in all honesty, lacked any cohesiveness to make it work.

Maggie’s uncanny ability to urge willing confessions from everyone was what drew me to this book in the first place but sadly, it wasn’t really explored. Aside from the sob stories that the kids around her would confess to, there wasn’t anything of worth. Maggie kept arriving at the wrong decisions that led her to make mistakes left and right. And yet, I couldn’t even bring myself to yell at her while I was reading the book. I just couldn’t give two sh*ts about what happens to her. And that is tragic.

Over all, this book was a disappointment.

My rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

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