Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick


There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord's first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain...magnetism.

And there are stories where it's hard to be sure who's a prince and who's a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.


Publication date: January 28th 2012 by Lerner Publishing Group

The Elliott Review:

This book presents a realistic, non-stereotyped story to the point that it is very hard to tell who the victim is and who the monster is. Everyone is presented in his/her totality - flaws and strengths being show in equal measure. Although this book deals with a girl who struggles with cutting and with her relationship with her teacher, the layers of character really just leave the reader curious as to what will happen. This is not an "issue" book. These issues are present, but there is no preaching or simplification. Life is what it is in this story.

I began the book with mixed feelings, unsure about how I felt about the budding relationship between Jenna and her teacher. Obviously, as a teacher, the idea of such a relationship is against everything I stand for, definitely not something I would do myself. And yet. I found myself at times rooting for Jenna and Mitch even though I knew things were not headed in a positive direction.

Jenna has a heart-wrenching family situation that makes you see why she acts the way she does, making decisions many (myself included) would not advise. The more the reader learns about the characters, especially Jenna, the more their actions make sense for them as characters.

In a book like this, I often find myself expecting a sunny, happy ending. However, the fact that the entire book is made up of Jenna's testimony to a police officer after an obviously catastrophic event for her, I knew that things, no matter how well they seemed to be going, would end with something bad. That's not to say this is a moralistic tale because it's not. It just presents the reality of the situation in a gripping way.

This is a book for the open minded who want to think outside the box about why people do what they do. It's an extremely well-crafted tale.

Young Adult Notes:

Student/teacher relationship; strong language; substance abuse; sensitive issues such as self-harm, suicide, abortion, and incest.

Source: Thanks to the Lerner Publishing Group for making this title available at NetGalley.


  1. Wow this sounds really different and Im definitely up for that! I'm reading this one next actually I'm looking forward to it! Great review!

    Xpresso Reads

  2. Wow. I'm listening to Imaginary Girls right now...haven't figured out what I think yet, but it seem like this same kind of open, honest intensity.

  3. I just finished this one and it's one that will stay with me, I'm sure. I just wanted some healing for Jenna, and so I to, sometimes thought her relationship with her teacher was good, even though it was bad. Really gets you thinking....

  4. This sounds CRAZY. It doesn't sound like what I usually pick up but since I loved ASHES, I'm willing to pick up anything by Ilsa J Bick. I'm definitely looking out for this one. Thanks for the review.

  5. Sometimes, I get a hankering for a book where there is no happily ever after; where the world is shown as cruel and mean and nothing the characters do or say can counteract that. This sounds like the next book I'll be adding to that pile. I definitely see the potential squick factor and may have to skip certain scenes, but this still sounds like a really interesting read.



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