There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)
Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.
There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)
Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain… magnetism.
And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)
Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules. – Goodreads
HOLY INSANITY! Much like with Ilsa J. Bick’s Ashes, Drowning Instinct is going to take some recovery time.
This roller coaster of a story starts with the main character, Jenna Lord. She is an unreliable narrator and the format in which Drowning Instinct is told, Jenna detailing the events into a digital recorder for a detective, only adds to the uncertainty of everything. There were several surprises and twists throughout the course of the novel that had me going, “AHHH!!” outloud.
Though there were plenty of difficult situations that allowed me to sympathize with Jenna, there were others when I definitely felt frustrated with her. I wanted good things for her, for her to fight her demons and win, but I also wanted to point her to the warning signs, to open her eyes to what was real. I liked her. I disliked her. So, all in all, I have to say that Ilsa J. Bick created a very real character in her.
It would have been so, so easy to depict the relationship between Jenna and Mr. Anderson with the type of moral message that says, “This is wrong!” I’m in no way condoning these student-teacher relationships in real life, but in this case Ilsa J. Bick blurred the lines between right and wrong; I understood why Jenna and Mr. Anderson were drawn together and why they found acceptance in each other. Ilsa J. Bick captured both the intensity and comfort between them while still carrying that feeling of dread throughout: things would not always be so perfect.
I still have so many questions about these characters and what happens next. And yet the lack of the closure is part of what makes this such a powerful read. Drowning Instinct is haunting and draining, but it is such a quality read.
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