Monday 24 January 2011

The Drowning by Valerie Mendes

Pages - 249

Jenna woke early that February morning. Her room crouched in darkness. She listened for the yearning cries of the gulls, the swirling waves of sea.
They made no answer.
Instead she heard the faint growl of Sunday traffic, pawing the streets beneath her attic room; a tube train grumbling underground; water lurching down a pipe.
Suddenly she remembered.
She was not in Cornwall.

Set in a beautifully described seaside village in Cornwall, this book follows the life of Jenna who has a bright future ahead of her.  She is a talented dancer and has just been accepted for a placement at one of London's top dance schools. The summer has arrived and she can't wait to enjoy it, as she has worked so hard on her exams and her dance audition. On her first real day of freedom, she decides she wants to go to the beach with her friends. Her mother insists that she takes her brother with her.That is where Jenna's life and dazzling future begins to crumble. What happens on the beach that day changes the rest of her life.

I had never heard of Valerie Mendes before picking up this book, but after reading it in two sittings, I will definitely be exploring her other young adult books. This book is gritty and real. It deals with loss, grieving followed by renewal of spirit.  Jenna really suffers in this book. When she got her dance placement, her mother was dead set against her going. So when everything goes wrong for the family, her mother is insistent that she gives up her dreams to help her father run the family business. It is so sad to watch such a promising star give up her dream and you cannot help but feel sorry for her. Although Jenna isn't the type of character who would want your pity. She becomes a strong female lead in the book and eventually gets back on the right path.

My only niggle with this book is that I felt there were a couple of important scenes within the book that were glazed over a bit.  I can't tell you what ones they were as that will spoil it for you, should you decide to read it.  It just felt that these things were skimmed over rather than showing the true emotions of the family. It may have been because the book was written for a YA audience and it was felt that too much grief would not suit the teenage market.  If that is the case, then I do think that they have underestimated the teenage audience.

On the whole, I really did enjoy this book, which is a rather slim book that won't take you long to devour. This book deals with real life issues that keep you seated for a resolve in the situation. It deals with coming to terms with difficult situations and learning to move on with your life. A great evening's read.


  1. This sounds like a story I could get caught up in.

  2. Sounds like a good read, it's a shame you felt certain issues were skimmed over though.

  3. I do not like the sound of that skimming. Feels dumb to do it, I am sure YA can take emotions too

  4. Nice, concise review, Vivienne. Right now, I like the idea of a shorter read, as well as a YA book.

  5. I just finished a YA book that also touches a lot on grief and I had a bit of a similar reaction in that I didn't think some aspects were explored enough but I wonder if it is because it's intended for a YA audience. Good point. This sounds like a really good read. Hadn't heard of it either but I'm going to have to see if my library has it.

  6. It sounds good, even if she skimmed over those certain parts.


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