Underwater Review: Breathe, because you are okay.

July 6, 2016 by Jenna | 4 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

Underwater Review: Breathe, because you are okay.Underwater by Marisa Reichardt
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on April 7th 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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“Forgiving you will allow me to forgive myself.”

Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

Underwater is a beautiful book about courage and picking yourself up after adversity. It’s a short book that packs quite the punch and will have you rooting hard for the main character within a couple of chapters. The book follows Morgan, a girl who’s become an agoraphobic after something that she experienced at school half a year ago. The traumatic experience coupled with her alcoholic father causes her so much stress that she’s unable to leave her house. But when Evan moves in next door, Morgan is unable to ignore his presence because he’s full of life and represents everything that she wants to be. Slowly, she comes out of her nest and conquers her fears.


I really loved this book. It’s full of character development and all the emotional goodness that I love in a contemporary novel. However, I do have to say that I didn’t connect with it as much emotionally as I thought I would and that was what brought down my rating. I wasn’t as invested in Morgan’s story as I wanted to be and even though I was rooting for her throughout the book, I didn’t particularly care for her that much. I did really like her recovery story though and thought the development of it was really well done. I enjoyed the mystery behind the traumatic event that happened and, even though it was easy to guess what had happened, I thought the reveal was done super well and there were a few things that still surprised me. I also enjoyed that the book explored her father’s alcoholism and PTSD but I did feel at times that it was one too many issues. The two issues weren’t really integrated very well and I felt that the novel cycled through the two separate issues without really intertwining or tying them together in the story.

“Your heart needs comfort and reassurance. Give it that. Don’t be a victim. Be a survivor.”

Even though I didn’t particularly connect with Morgan, I still thought she was likeable and enjoyed reading from her perspective. She’s a vulnerable character but she also has an inner strength that pushes her to get better, not only for those around her but for herself too. She has weak moments and pushes those around her away but she learns from her mistakes and becomes a better and stronger person as a result. I really liked how she interacted with her mother and younger brother, Ben. I thought their family dynamic was wonderful and Ben was probably my favourite of all the characters in the book. He was just ridiculously cute and had an amazing fun-loving personality.

He grabs me around the neck and holds on tight. “Rawwwwwr. I’m a dinosaur. I’ve got you. Rawwwwwr. You can’t get away.”

What I was less of a fan of was the romance in the book. There’s insta-love and I really didn’t like how quickly they became interested in each other. Evan does help break Morgan out of her shell by inadvertently reminding her of the person she used to be but it felt a little bit “love cures all” at the beginning. This did get better as the book progressed though because Evan was absent for most of the middle section. Morgan did most of her developing and healing without him, which I appreciated a lot, but I do wish that Evan hadn’t been in the book at all. Having said that, I did like Evan as a character… mostly. He had a few petty moments that made me want to hit him across the face, but overall I thought he was a good support system for Morgan during her recovery.


Underwater was a great issue book that explored a wide range of important issues. It was a short and quick read but definitely still achieved what it set out to do. I enjoyed the characters and the familial relationships in this book but didn’t really connect with the romance or the emotional aspect of the story.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book.


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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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18 responses to “Underwater Review: Breathe, because you are okay.

  1. This one definitely sounds like it hit a punch, and awww Ben sounds so wonderful and adorable! I'm glad that there was some issues explored like alcoholism and PTSD, even though it didn't delve as deep as you hoped. Glad to hear you enjoyed it Jenna!

  2. Ben was totally my favorite too! I think their whole relationship and the family dynamic in general is what saved this one for me. Like you, I didn't really connect as much as I wanted to- and I didn't love the way the romance was used. I agree that she didn't like, use him as a crutch or anything, but he seemed like the motivation, which isn't the best. But still, I agree that it was a pretty solid book overall. Great review, and I LOVE your picture!!!
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  3. I really love that quote. It is gold.

    Glad you enjoyed this Jenna! I actually haven't heard much about Underwater, though I know I wanted to read it because it kind of has to do with swimming. Also I don't know if you have read Everything, Everything, but it almost reminds me of that. But not really, mostly just the isolation part of it. And a boy helping her get out of her shell.

    Great review Jenna!
    My recent post Double Reviews: Once Was A Time & Zenith

  4. Bahh it's not even the insta-love part but then a "love cures all" thing going on? No to the no thank you. >:-( Thanks but no thanks Evan. I'm glad to see there was less of him in the middle of the book.

    Omg Ben sounds like such an adorable character! Hehe

  5. annajayne99

    I like the sound of this story, but am not particularly fond of insta-love. I might be interested in giving it a go. It sounds emotionally moving and for some reason I like the sound of that even though it could leave me a bit emotional. Great Review 🙂
    My recent post That Word Plethora

  6. Yeah! I am so happy that you liked this so much Jenna! It sounds like it covers a lot of difficult topics in an honest and respectful manner, which is great. And yeah for familial relationships! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

  7. This reminds me a little of Finding Aubrey I think it was, but clearly a much more serious scenario. The romance sounds like it's been thrown in there as a means to an end sadly, or a coping mechanism for Morgan. I'm not generally a fan either Jenna. I dare say that I could probably relate to Morgan unfortunately, having grown up with an alcoholic father myself. Wonderful review Jenna and so glad you enjoyed this one despite it's issues <3
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  8. Yessss, I loved this too!! I rated this a five-star actually (surprisingly lolz) but I agree, there was a teensy bit of instalove, which was kinda of a turnoff. I hate when romance is used as a trope to help fix mental illness. Uh no. Great book, nonetheless! Pro-therapy & everything! Awesome review, Jenna!

  9. I really like the concept of the story! The fact that Morgan is agoraphobic, and the presence of someone that makes her feel something. It seems like a really interesting book to read 🙂 I'm sorry you didn't really emotionally connect with some parts, but I'm quite glad that at least Morgan came off as a likable character nonetheless! Great review Jeann! I would still be willing to check this out someday 😀
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  10. I was really excited about this one but when everyone started mentioning the insta-love, I decided to skip it, but I think I'm going to read it soon because it sounds good. I think knowing that it has insta-love should help me prepare for it. I like the sound of the character growths throughout the story, especially. It's too bad you weren't able to emotionally connect though. Still, this sounds wonderful. 🙂
    Lovely review, Jenna!
    My recent post My Newfound Love For Re-Reading & Old Favorites I Want To Revisit

    • There's enough character development to enjoy it even if you don't like the romance I think. It was just really hard to overlook the insta-love. But Morgan is a really relatable and likeable character (even though I found it hard to connect emotionally) so I hope you check this one out!

  11. SEE THIS IS MY GRIPE WITH INSTA-LOVE. Gah. But this still sounds good! Actually I read about ten pages a few weeks ago and then got distracted (probably by some shiny new book, no doubt). So I'll have to pick it back up again.

    • Haha but this is also a shiny book? The cover of this one is honestly so beautiful. The story was beautiful too except for the insta-love. I hope you got a chance to pick it back up again during the four weeks it took for me to reply to this T_T. I'M SUCH A TERRIBLE BLOGGER.

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