I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
Left Drowning is the third book by Jessica Park that I've read. For some reason, with all three I was left with a feeling of wanting more. Not more in the sense that the stories were incomplete. Not in the sense that I didn't want the stories to end. But more in the sense that I feel Park has the potential to write what I would perceive as a great story, but each time it just falls a bit short.
Park's style is easy to read and it pulls me in usually from the start. As with her others that I've read, I didn't have to push myself to finish this book. I wanted to see where it would go, even though I guessed the backstory for both Blythe and Chris at the very beginning.
From the start of the book I knew that one of the primary themes was about fate. Does it exist or doesn't it? Because of this, I was able to look past the unbelievable circumstances: (1) Blythe meeting her first friend in 4 years, and then only hours later meeting her second which turns out to be the brother of said new friend. (2) Blythe feeling an immediate connection to Chris where she can tell him things she has never told anyone else (on the day she meets him). (3) The shared past between Chris and Blythe that neither remember until the end of the story. (4) There are more, but I don't want to give spoilers.
For many readers, the things mentioned above would be enough to drop the book. But like I said, I knew it was about fate and I accepted it for what it was. I tend to believe in fate, so maybe those readers who hated it don't believe in fate.
Blythe (and her brother) and Chris (and his siblings) all had some pretty big issues to overcome. I liked that while Chris helped Blythe overcome her issues, she didn't need to use him as a crutch - he was a catalyst and not her savior.
Despite all that, this book fell short for me in some big areas.
When the story beings, we are led to believe that Blythe has spent the last 4 years in self-induced isolation and drinks a lot. Her new friend even recognizes her as someone who can do a good keg-stand. Yet, out of the blue, she decides to get sober, meet new people, actually start trying in class, and start running. If only it were that easy. 4 years of drinking and isolation is a long time - I find it hard to believe that it can be overcome in just 24 hours. Besides that, what was her trigger? Yes she drunk dialed her brother and it didn't go well, but again we're led to believe that she had been doing that consistently for the past 4 years. What was her sudden motivation for change?
At the 50% mark of this book, it suddenly turned into an eRom. We are given two entire chapters where Blythe and Chris don't leave the bedroom. I don't have any issues with graphic sex in books. I've enjoyed many books with hot, steamy, sex scenes. While a few chapters before Blythe masturbates, the dedication of two chapters to the bedroom kind of hit me by surprise. This was a dramatic story and the amount of sex that was suddenly thrown in just didn't fit for me. And Blythe was a virgin. But based on the way she talked/performed in the bedroom it was kind of hard to believe. I could be wrong though. It's not like I've bedded any female virgins (unless you count me having been one once) so maybe they do all talk about how they want it harder and deeper on their first time (that's being performed on a dresser even though the bed is just a few feet away).
The 'moment' that Blythe and Chris fall in love is at the end of this week-long sexcapade. During one of these very graphic sex scenes. I wish that hadn't been the case. For me, love should happen outside the bedroom, and inside is where you should express it. If you think you fall in love while in the bedroom, well, some day that could become very complicated.
My last major issue with the book was Blythe's unbelievable emotional maturity. Remember, she just spent 4 years drinking herself into isolation. Yet, with this abrupt change in her life she also somehow developed this amazing level of emotional maturity. From her relationship with Chris to that of her brother. All of her reasoning was sound and very good advice - I just don't know how she suddenly had it when it wasn't there before.
Opps, sorry. One last thing. But I'll have to hide it as a spoiler.
Overall, I'd say that I would read more of Park's books. I guess I'm still looking for that moment when she can bring it all together and really knock my socks off.