Title: Drowning Instinct
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Release Date: February 2012
Published By: Lerner Publishing Group
Goodreads Rating: 4.22
Review: Jenna's life is not exactly a fairy tale. She has a controlling father, a drunken mother, and a brother she used to be able to rely on until he was shipped off to Afghanistan. Now the only light in her life is her teacher, Mitch Anderson. He's a dedicated teacher and coach, a caring husband, and a man with a certain magnetism. Jenna is drawn to him, and the lines between "victim" and "happily ever after" become blurred.
Originally I was attracted to this novel because of the gorgeous cover, and I didn't know much else about the book, but one aspect that certainly jumped out at me as soon as I cracked the pages (or the digital pages, as it were) was the phenomenal writing. Ilsa Bick is undeniably a talented writer, her words gliding across the pages in beautiful, stark language. With letters alone she paints a canvas upon which this twisting, painful, and marvelous story lies.
What I particularly appreciated about the way she handled the story was her ability to get such a complex plot done so delicately and realistically. Many novels about such "impossible love" between a girl and a man clearly portray the predatory nature of the man and show the girl spiraling in her descent into danger, but DROWNING INSTINCT made it much less clear. You could easily be put in the place of Jenna and understand her conflicting feelings about him. Just as these situations are in real life, this was not a black-and-white scenario.
I was somewhat bothered, however, by a few inconsistencies in the novel. For instance, Jenna's parents were depicted as over-protective of her throughout the story, her mother going so far as to regularly inspect her for evidence of self-harm after her trip to a mental ward. But then all of a sudden, her parents just leave her alone for a week, completely trusting her. Even my parents wouldn't want to leave me at home for a week, and I'm not afflicted by the harmful disorders Jenna suffers.
All in all, DROWNING INSTINCT was a novel with unforgettable prose and a - for the most part - well-developed cast of characters to enhance a delicately handled plot. I had my quibbles with character inconsistencies, especially concerning her parents, but this remains a strong contemporary novel that I would recommend to any fan of books with hard-hitting issues.