Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley
Publisher: Knopf BFYR
Release Date: September 8, 2015
My Rating: 4 out of 5
“A literary knockout with the loudest of beating hearts.”
John Corey Whaley, Printz Award winner of Where Things Come Back
Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,” shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.
In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.
Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?
My goodness. Drowning is Inevitable doesn’t hold back on the feels. This story gutted me and left me feeling empty yet whole at the same time. I wasn’t expecting to have so many emotions, but Shalanda Stanley proved me wrong. Drowning is Inevitable is not the easiest of reads, and readers definitely need to be in the right mindset to read it.
1. A LOT OF THINGS GOING ON, BUT IT WORKS
+ We follow the main story of Olivia, whose mother committed suicide at the age of 18. She has to deal with a lot of pity from the small town where she’s from, and I really supported her strength in ignoring people’s judgments.
+ Olivia’s best friend Jamie has an extremely abusive and alcoholic father. That alone is dreadful. Jamie is always there for Olivia, and I love that Stanley kept this boy/girl best friend relationship strictly a friendship – it doesn’t bud into something more.
+ Olivia’s boyfriend Max is the on-again, off-again type of boyfriend, and at first he comes off as a jerk, but his endearing side sure came out as the story went on, and I grew to love him a lot as well.
+ Lastly, Olivia’s best friend Maggie is quirky but also supportive. Maggie’s mother left her for drugs when she was young, but Maggie doesn’t become selfish as a result. She’s there for Olivia whenever, and I loved that about her.
So yes, each character has their own problems going on, but Stanley really made it work. They all intertwine and don’t become too convoluted whatsoever. Stanley keeps it really balanced for sure.
2. STANLEY’S WRITING FITS THE BOOK
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly made me keep reading this story because it’s difficult to read in that it’s so gritty and horrifying what these 18 year-olds must endure, but Stanley’s compulsive and lyrical writing style really works with the storyline. It just does.
3. FINAL THOUGHTS
It’s hard to recommend Drowning is Inevitable to all readers because that’s just it: it’s not for all readers. It’s difficult to relate to the characters in this book just because of the situation they’re put in and I’m fortunate enough to not have experienced those events, but Drowning is Inevitable is not for the lighthearted. However, if you do pick it up, you’re in for a treat – it’ll make you think, empathize, and realize that the world around you is not just the comfort of your own home.