Published by Penguin Group USA on March 31st 2015
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
An adventurous debut novel that cross cuts between a competitive college swimmer’s harrowing days in the Rocky Mountains after a major airline disaster and her recovery supported by the two men who love her—only one of whom knows what really happened in the wilderness.
Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.
That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.
In the wilderness, the concept of survival is clear-cut. Simple. In the real world, it’s anything but.
The first thing you need to know about this book: It isn’t as much a story of survival as it is a story about surviving survival. Yes, the aftermath of the plane crash is a big part of the story, but more prominent is Avery trying to figure out what comes after making it out of a huge plane crash alive. The book is told through a series of present narratives and flashbacks. Clearly, she has survived the crash, and we know from the start who survived with her (and you know, it says so in the synopsis).
So, I really liked this book, though I fully admit it isn’t perfect, which of course, I will talk about. But as always, let’s start with all the good, enjoyable things, okay?
What I Loved:
- The Characters: I have to disclose some biases: Avery is a collegiate swimmer. As was I. Avery made choices based on what everyone else wanted her to do. As did I. So I may not have always liked Avery, but I sure as hell understood her. And I most definitely sympathized with her, because my goodness, she went through a lot. I mean, how can you not have empathy for “girl in plane crash turned girl stuck in wilderness”? She is far from perfect, but she is working through a very real case of PTSD, as you would. And Colin… Colin is everything. He is like, my second-in-line book boyfriend. I adored Colin. He was kind of an old-soul type, and I just want one of him for myself.
- The Relationships: There were many, many relationships in this book that were explored. From Avery’s often strained relationship with her parents and brothers, to her newfound, fumbling relationship with the boys she helped rescue, to her college boyfriend Lee, to her very uncertain relationship with Colin, there was a lot of exploration into how these relationships changed as Avery changed. And really, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Swimming: Like I said before, this has swimming in it, which admittedly is what drew me to it in the first place. Because swimming was my entire life for a good 14 years. And Avery’s too, as it happens. The best part is, the swimming stuff is very accurate, which is super rare in books. Upon visiting the author’s blog, I am not at all surprised that she swam too. (Since I am insanely devoted, and myself a distance swimmer, I do have to say- at the collegiate level, they’d be doing the 1650, not the 1500. But um, none of you will notice or care about that.) Anyway, the accuracy impressed me, but more importantly, it had me very much in the story, because I knew exactly how Avery was feeling. Down to that crappy moment when you have to get in the too-cold pool and would rather visit the dentist or something.
- The Survival: I love a good survival show. Like ones on The Discovery Channel, where people somehow survive against all the odds? Yeah, that is what this is like. I mean, surviving a plane crash is impressive enough, but then to have to fend for yourselves (and your injuries) while you hope for rescue? Well, that is a whole new level of intense!
- The Plot in General: Yes, the survival aspect was great, but it was just a part of the plot. There was so much more, so much of Avery’s evolution and recovery, so many lives impacted, so much that happens after the fact, that even though we know she makes it out of The Rockies, there’s definitely plenty going on to keep the book interesting.
My one qualm:
- Here’s my only real problem with this book: The beginning felt a little rushed, and perhaps not as authentic as it could have been. I never got the emotion during the plane crash aftermath. I assume that during the actual crash, adrenaline takes over, so that isn’t what I mean. I mean when that wears off, and the victims have time to process, and shock sets in. I guess I just kind of hoped to connect more to those scenes of the book, especially since they did set the stage for the entire thing.
Bottom Line: The initial problem aside, I really loved this book. Do I think it was partially because of my connection with Avery and swimming? Probably, but I do know that it certainly wasn’t the only reason I loved this book. The obstacles, the relationships, the characters, the survival, and Avery’s growth in general made this a book I absolutely couldn’t put down.