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Saturday, March 9, 2013

ARC Review: Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Fascination. There was a deep, deep fascination from inside of me that made me want to read this novel. It sounds moving, deep, even sad. But this novel, in the end just left me feeling so conflicted.

Title: Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Release Date: March 12th 2013
Published by: Candlewick
Source: Publisher (Thanks Erin!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


A lyrical and deeply moving portrait of grief, blame, and forgiveness, and of finding the courage to confront your ghosts — one truth at a time.

As soon as she was under, Maggie heard the quiet, though every sound was amplified in her ears and in her brain . . . Sound, like shame, travels four times faster under the water.

Though only a sophomore, Maggie Paris is a star on the varsity swim team, but she also has an uncanny, almost magical ability to draw out people’s deepest truths, even when they don’t intend to share them. It’s reached a point where most of her classmates, all but her steadfast best friend, now avoid her, and she’s taken to giving herself away every chance she gets to an unavailable — and ungrateful — popular boy from the wrestling team, just to prove she still exists. Even Maggie’s parents, who are busy avoiding each other and the secret deep at the heart of their devastated family, seem wary of her. Is there such a thing as too much truth?

Does Maggie really have this uncanny trait of letting people open up to her without her doing anything? Can it even be considered as something special? If she can make people talk, why couldn't she find it in herself to talk as well? It's a little bit unnerving to be able to hear the things you don't want to and the things you don't usually ask about come out freely, because you feel it, and you think about it once you hear them. At that point, I understand why Maggie is such a recluse. However, I do not feel any sympathy for her especially with the way she handled her romantic relationships. If she was a smart girl, she will believe it when the only friend she has who knows her better than herself, Julie, tells her to stay away from someone. But in her quest to find love, she willingly, stubbornly threw away her chance with that one person who liked her for who she is. Nathan was the one thing that felt right, but then what do you expect in a relationship that started purely because of Maggie's desire to lose her virginity and prepare herself for another guy? Even that sounded so shallow and ridiculous to me.

It's a different story when it comes to seeing how the tragedy that set Maggie towards the path she was taking, unravel before her eyes. Losing her older sister had killed something inside of her, and I am not saying that it's an enough of a reason to explain why Maggie became the person that she was, but the wounds that the five year old Maggie had never had a chance to heal, the secrets she held back then couldn't get out and they're surfacing one by one as she gets older, as she starts thinking of ways to cope with her brush with romance, with complicated friendships, because her older sister was supposed to be by her side to help her through it all and yet she's not. Who will she turn to when her family is crumbling because of the pain and bitterness that built up years after her sister's death? How can Maggie, who blames herself for what happened to her sister, forgive herself? This particular parts of the story is what made me hold on it a little bit more, the sadness, loneliness and that feeling of being lost is something I want to read, what made me connect to Maggie somehow and understand her a little bit more.

Somewhat moving, somehow sad, a little bit deep, Surfacing might be a moving, emotional read depending on how one approaches the issues discussed in this book. It wasn't something that I responded greatly to, given the negative emotions several of Maggie's issues had made me feel, and they were things I do not agree well with, but there were moments and elements in the story that made me think that it had a potential to be a more worthwhile read. It could have been written in a way that presented Maggie in a more positive light instead of being a girl so desperate to receive love from some guy who's only after the sex when there's this one person who loves her willingly and she chose to destroy all of that.

If you ever decide to give this a try, tell me if you liked it or not.

My rating

Content (plot, story flow, character):
It's so hard to empathize with someone whose views on a lot of things clashes a lot with mine, it makes it harder for me to connect with the character most of the time especially when Maggie tackles things like family, sex, friendship.

Okay: Liked, but The Goddess demands more!

Book Cover:
Gorgeous! It's what attracted me to the story.


  1. Ohhh... I tend to stay away from this sort of plot. I really need to connect with the main character in order to fully appreciate the story. Great review , Kai.


    1. I had difficulty connecting with Maggie because she was so, so shallow most of the time. She was behaving like an idiot for this one guy when this other guy clearly likes her. I was so angry with her at that point. I wish she was more relatable too...

  2. It's hard to read a book like this when you can't connect with the MC because you won't really understand what they're going through or feel what they feel. It's also annoying if the MC acts like a selfish prick just because tragedy had stricken her before. Great review, Kai, and I understand your struggle.


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