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4.7 out of 5 stars
Left Drowning
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2013
This has to be one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read about Love, loss, heartbreak, healing and destiny. There is plenty of the above to keep you hooked from the very first page.

Blythe McGuire is the kind of girl that has been dealt a really shitty hand. Along with her brother James, she desperately wants to move forward but hasn't got a clue how to do that. That fateful night, the fire ripped apart everything she knew and loved and left both her and James with a broken mess that they didn't know how to piece together. Blythe feels suffocated by the overwhelming feelings of despair and confusion. Not only that, there are many things she needs to find the answers to and pieces that she needs to put together to make sense of her life and to move forward with her future.

Blythe meets Chris, his younger brother Sabin (who is my favourite by the way!), and their younger twin brother and sister Eric and Estelle who are all attending Matthews College, and they change her life for ever. The connection to Chris is instant and unexplainable. He is her salvation and her protector in many ways. He helps to make her see the world in another colour other than grey.

They, and mostly Chris, are saving me. Or teaching me to save myself. He is my port in the storm, and that's why I feel comfortable with what I'm going to do. Chris is going to have to be strong, but I have hope that the story I'm about to tell him will help me, free me even. He is the one person with whom I will remember what I have forgotten.

But, poor Chris has his own demons. that boy broke my heart into a hundred different pieces...several times. He is so damn strong but his hurt and pain are deep seated and he is good at hiding it on the surface. Blythe is the one person he can't hide it from though and she can see that he is drowning in the trauma from his past that haunts him. He is slipping into a depression that threatens to take him to a dark, dark place, and he knows that the only way back up may break him. The way Blythe makes him feel is both exhilarating and frightening, because to open up your heart to let someone in, you risk some of your demons from the past escaping and coming to the surface.

"You said something last night that was completely wrong. I could never touch anyone the way that I touch you. And I will never regret falling in love with you. Don't forget that."

And that is how we say good-bye.

The whole of the Shepherd family have experienced more grief and upset than they should ever encounter and they are all struggling to deal with it effectively. Little pieces will unravel themselves as the story goes on but you don't find out the extent of their pain until much further on. It hit me like a wrecking ball and I found myself breathless and hurting along with them.

"Of course as much as I want his walls to come down, I don't know what they'll look like when they crash."

Sabin is the comic, always trying to put a funny spin on things, and is the one that I think would give the best cuddles!! He has so much love to give but for all his bravado, he is just a lost little boy who just wants to move on but doesn't know how. He feels guilt for the wrongs Chris had to endure but knows there was no other way. He seems strong but there's only so much pressure he can take before it starts to consume him.He is my secret favourite and I would love to know more about him.

Eric is the quieter one of them. He is gentle, reasonably level headed and suffering in silence. His boyfriend Zach is obviously head over heels in love with him and they are such a cute couple.

Then there's Estelle, she's loud, funny and has an unwavering faith in god. She uses her faith to get her through the bad times and believes it heals her somehow.

They are a mismatch of characters, but they all compliment each other and their support for each other as a family is beautiful. From the minute they meet, they accept Blythe as part of their family and they all make up parts of different picture puzzles, that somehow fit together perfectly.

For all the angst, drama and painful heartbreak in this story, there is also some scorching hot scenes. There was one in particular that sucked me in so deep, I was left feeling a little breathless too! It reads with such ease that you feel like a voyeur. Every breath, every whisper and every little piece of emotion came across in high quality technicolour.

"My pleasure with him is more complete, more layered, more overwhelming than anything that I could give myself."

I can honestly say, this is the best book I have read so far this year. It took me to another place, held me tight and didn't let go until my broken heart was mended again.

5++ Beautiful, emotional, painful, rollercoaster stars!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2013
This is definitely a work of art! I started at 8am and couldn't put it down! What a lovely story. The characters are superbly written and I loved Chris and Blythe. Their relationship was at times heart breaking yet I could identify with their characters. You won't be disappointed, treat yourself to some escapism.
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on 1 August 2013
LEFT DROWING by Jessica Park

Even when you're drowning and so far under, there is always time to reach for someone who will teach you how to breathe again.

Immeasurably profound, deep and breathtakingly honest. This book gave me everything from total elation to absolute heartbreak and everything in between. Left Drowning is a powerful story of how shattering events in the past have a direct hit on the present and the future. How it haunts, drowns and manifests itself in different ways in different people. The key is not to forget, not to accept, not always to forgive in order to move on...but to breathe. To find strength in others and to build a foundation based on love and trust in order to survive.

There are many strong voices in this story, even though it's predominantly written in Blythe's first person narrative. These characters are not perfect; in-fact each one of them is flawed in their own way, but that is what made it so easy to connect with them.

Blythe, our heroine is a shadow. In the four years she has attended Matthews College, she has shied away from others. Isolated and numb, her only escape is to drink booze, excessively. Blythe is suffering with depression, burdened with guilt since the loss of her parents. One day however, everything changes...
Little does she know, the morning a strange student named Sabin stole her coffee it started a catalyst of events that spiral out of her own control, except it may just be the thing she needs because depression is about to get a shot of `family Shepherd,' and it may just prove to be the best medicine...ever!

Sabin - the crazy best friend and drama student. He's a riot! I loved everything about him. He injected a lot of light into the `darker' backdrop proving to be a breath of fresh air.

Estelle - The foul-mouthed sister in the Shepherd crew, religious yet carefree, strong on the outside, soft in the middle with a big heart, you definitely want her in your corner!

Eric - Estelle's twin Brother is the gay quiet one. He is the dependable guy, the one you can go to for support. Even though he likes to keep his distance on occasion, he is friendly and genuine with a gorgeous boyfriend called Zach.

Chris - The oldest. The Shepherd family provider and the beautiful boy who teaches Blythe to breathe again...

The perfect family.

Or is it?

When Blythe becomes the fifth member of the Shepherd clan having forged friendships tougher than stone, she quietly starts to notice that maybe Sabin drinks too much, Estelle is highly secretive, Eric can be introverted and distant and Chris... broken.

Now it's her turn to be the saviour - the damsel in distress becomes the hero in this compelling, yet tragic story of love, loss and survival.

Jessica Park has done an exemplary job in portraying the shocking damage that one event can cause, how guilt and grief can destroy lives, relationships and ones self belief. Yet, what is truly magic is the hope she injected in almost every scene. It was palpable and truly beautiful to witness the TRUE POWER of friendship and irrevocable love. If you enjoy second chance romances, then you cannot go far wrong with this book!

Where there is dark there is always light, just remember to 'breathe into it.'


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on 27 July 2013
I was going to write a review containing two words: Just wow.
But then I decided you might want to know a bit more.
I wonder if Jessica Park sat down one evening and decided to write a story, that would be such a mind-f***, that we will feel like we've been swept up by tornado of emotions, spit back out and left there gasping for air. Well, she has succeeded. Ten minutes after finishing the book, I still had tears streaming down my face and I am not sure if I will ever recover from this book hangover. It is actually hard to form a coherent thought about this book and the characters. Never did I have to put a book away for a few minutes to get some sense of composure but this book did it. I otherwise would have thrown my Kindle at the wall.
The story draws you in right from the start. Although you don't know what happened to Blythe, it is evident that she is traumatized, hurting and depressed. Jessica writes the character in a way, that I immediately bonded with Blythe. Meeting the Shepherds her life changes and how could it not. This family, Chris, Sabin, Estelle, Eric and his boyfriend Zach, are the most beautiful characters I have come across in a long time. If it is possible to fall in love with a whole family, I did. Just as Blythe couldn't resist their wonderful personalities. But one person stands out to her, Chris. Chris is caring, understanding and gives Blythe her life back. He is the rock in a stormy sea and not too mention incredibly hot. From their first encounter, both feel a connection that goes deeper than anything they are capable of explaining. As a reader we get glimpses of where the connection might stem from but until the end we do not have the clarity and it was killing me. There were parts of the book that I was biting down on my hand in order to easy my nerves. The secrets that they uncover are threatening to break them as individuals, as a group and as lovers. They are so painful, so tragic and horrific that I couldn't help but sob like a little baby. But there wasn't just tragedy and angst. The story offered so much more. Sabin was by far my favorite character. His goofy, loving and caring personality won me over from the first moment. He was the type of friend we all wish for and are extremely lucky to have. Estelle with her potty-mouth made me laugh a lot and made me love her character even more. I find it charming when a character knows how to swear well, and Estelle would have given any sailor a run for his money.
The interactions between the characters portrayed a wonderful friendship and relationship that put a smile on my face.
There aren't any words to express how much I loved the characters.
And not to forget the love scenes. Oh holy hell....well, that is how hot they were. Hot as hell. I think I might have left a charred outline on the sofa as I went up in flames. Chris is the definition of sexy and together with Blythe...pure sizzling magic.
The book is such a rollercoaster, I am surprised I didn't get motion sickness but the ride was exhilarating. From laughing, to sobbing, to swooning, to raw pain....all emotions were there. When a book evokes so many emotions, when it touches you so deeply and has such a profound effect on you, you know you found a true gem.
The book doesn't deserve five stars, it actually deserves whole galaxies.
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on 18 July 2013
Um, Wow!

I'm not even sure how to begin writing this review, Left Drowning, just wow!

Jessica Park has just infiltrated my world with this book, Flat out Love and Flat out Matt were amazing but this, this is insane.

Two pages in and I was already a goner. Blyth's character is a lot different from other lead females I've read. She's vulnerable and very fragile to begin with but as the book progresses we really see her come out of her shell and the tough, loving character who emerges is the perfect lead female. Jessica says all the right things at the right time and creates truly loveable characters.

Chris and Blyth (I've mush named them 'Bliss' because it just fits, like fate ;)), are both hurting and manage to find the most beautiful saving love in a world of pain. Chris to me, is Blyths beacon of light, right from the start this character clutches at your heart strings: 'There's nothing good to be said about sanity. It's dull. Live a little. Come on.' He's vulnerable like no other lead male I've read and when he says stuff like this:

'I can't stop thinking about you, and I don't know what to do about it'. - well, damn.

All of the characters are perfect and 'make' the book and Blyth and Sabin's relationship was so different from any other books I've read, it was beautiful.

This was a book I could have easily read in one sitting, although that is no reflection on the length of the book, which is chunky (thanks Jessica!), it was simply that my eyes were working at superhuman speed to devour this gem of a book. I did, however, do my best to string it out and savour each and ever moment; although I still read it in a day so my attempt was pretty damn futile!

The storyline unfolds beautifully and Jessica navigates tough subjects expertly. The writing flows and Blyth's voice is distinct, making the book even more interesting; she did in fact remind me of a certain Celeste at times, albeit much more toned down, I loved her!

And it's sexy! Very sexy, and steamy, and hot! (No spoilers here, I'll let you discover the rest for yourself).

Left Drowning is Bananas, literally bananas. I mean right from the start Blyth says 'I look bananas', in fact no, I'm pretty sure she shouts it. And the funny thing is, Jessica's skill at writing conveys exactly how bananas she is seamlessly. I'm pretty sure from the minute I read that first line I was sunk in this bananas world. Maybe I should stop saying bananas now but I just can't get over how bananaringly good this book is!

Categorically though, this book is real. The relationships, storyline, healing process, all of it is so plausible. Jessica has written one of the only books I have read which doesn't just wow me but moves me with its rawness. She easily had me smiling, laughing, crying (a lot! damn, I needed a therapist at 70%), fall in love, feel betrayed and then grin like a moron again at the end.

This book is simply 'different', in the best way possible and I honestly believe if you don't read it, you are missing out. I will never be able to forget this book and I never want to. Jessica Park is an amazingly talented author and her ability to create a book so beautifully heartbreaking is truly a gift to us all.

This book might have literally left me drowning in parts but 'breath, just breath' because I'm telling you, this book will change you.
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on 16 July 2013
I've read a few of Jessica Park's books in recent months and they're great. But none of them have come close to how Left Drowning has blown me away.

Park has written a story that pulls at the reader's emotions. Pulls in many different directions, and it doesn't let go even after the story's over. It does this by creating characters that have so many great, loveable qualities, as well as many flaws and troubled pasts.

What I really felt was great about Left Drowning's storyline is that it wasn't just the story of Blythe coping with her tragic past and finding herself. It was also about the Shepherd family, who are in need of their own way to deal with the past. It's a complicated journey, but that's not a negative. It's organized and won't trip the reader up. There are so many different issues occurring at once that there isn't a boring part of this book. I kept on reading and reading and becoming more emotionally invested in each character as it went along.

Why is there a mention of sexual content in the description? Well, this book does get very steamy at times. And I feel like this wasn't added in just for the sex appeal. I felt it was a great tool to show a unique bond between characters. It showed the passion, the hurt, the need for escape.

I haven't come across a book like Left Drowning in a long time. It pushes the envelope in some aspects, but with a story like this it pushed just far enough without going over-the-top. It's realistic. The characters drew me in. The overall emotional feel throughout captured my attention early on. When the characters relived their troubling events, I felt like I was there seeing it with them. I wanted to help in some way. Park is very effective when it comes to the descriptions in this book. There won't be many readers with dry eyes, at times. But there will also be many smiles, especially when Sabin in involved.
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on 16 November 2013
Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Flat Out Love (I even visited locations from it when I vacationed in Boston!) so I was a little hesitant about reading Left could Jessica Park write something that would have as much of an impact on me? I downloaded the book on release day but delayed reading it, sure that it would disappoint.

I was SO wrong! It is very different to Flat Out Love so I'm not going to try and compare the two.

Left Drowning is beautiful. Serious, yes, but beautiful in what it says about love, fate and families. The characters are well-drawn (I love the realism Jessica Park creates - after all, none of us is perfect) and I found myself caught up in the lives and emotions of each of the secondary characters as well as Chris and Blythe.

However, it is a very intense read, especially the second half. There were times when I stopped reading because I was literally breathless; on edge because of one revelation or another. And that is what makes it an unequivocal five stars: Jessica Park generated a physical, visceral reaction in me. I didn't enjoy Left Drowning: I lived it. At 90% I didn't want it to end and now I'm struggling to know what to read next. What can follow this?!

Don't just read it. Savour it. Linger over it. Love it.
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on 26 July 2013
Oh dear god I love this author!! Just when I thought she couldn't pull anything better out of the bag, she unleashes Left Drowning on us. This story is just WOW! and I don't say that lightly believe me.

Blythe is the most tortured soul trapped by past life events and a tremendous amount of guilt which is holding her back. That is until she meets Christopher Shepherd, a boy who teaches her to breathe again. The relationship between them is beautifully written as you would expect from this author. Chris has his own secrets to contend with but remains strong for his siblings and Blythe.

I have to say my absolute favourite character has to be Sabin, Chris's brother. What an absolute star this guy is, the sort of best friend every girl needs in her life. His character is so rich, warm and oh so funny, had me laughing out loud!

I will say one thing though, if you download this book you will need a box of tissues and copious amounts of alcohol to hand when you reach the 65% - 70% mark in the book! What a killer Ms Park!!!

Just go read it, no amount of reviewing can do this book the justice it deserves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 October 2013
This book is the most fantastic free book I have read the author Jessica park has a unique way of developing loveable characters. The story is about a girls journey in life from heart break to finding love it is so beautifully written. The emotion and feeling in the book takes you on the journey with Blythe I could not put this book down. Love love loved this book :-)
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on 14 December 2013
I was really amazed at how much I enjoyed this book. I expected it to be an easy afternoon read and so had kept it downloaded on my kindle for a time when I was bored and wanted a distraction. I am upset I didn't pick it up sooner.
From reading the blurb I expected lots of angst and personally I don't really connect much with angst ridden female narrators as i just find them whiny rather than endearing, so i was happily surprised when I ended up liking Blythe (if only I could get over her unfortunate name). I also really liked all of the Shepherd siblings and liked how it built up to reveal their back stories in snippets rather than in one long awaited confession. And another thing is that it did this well. All of the revelations felt right within the timeline and the context in which they were revealed rather than just dropping hints along the way. I found this very well written and would definitely continue with it if it is made into a series.
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