Received an ARC; gave my honest opinion.
If I wanted to become an author, this is the caliber of writing I would aspire to. As a reader, Left Drowning is the reason I read; the reason I neglect my housework, deprive myself of sleep, and buy a stupid number of the same paperbacks.
This review might contain some spoilers, but I tried to be as vague with the characters as possible. That was hard because this book had me laughing and crying. It's really hard to say "BELIEVE ALL THE HYPE" and not give the whole thing away. Through Ms. Park's ability to write an amazing and captivating story, it made me consider God, love, family, and hope.
The beginning of this beautiful story permeated desolation. I have no idea how this author has such an innate ability to write depression nor do I care. Knowing these trade-secrets would almost be blasphemous.
The reader is first introduced to the main character in what could later be described as the turning point of her emotional bottom. Though the character can very well use a therapist, a prescription of antidepressants, and normal social interactions, her self-awareness is uncanny and gives the reader hope that there is an end to her self-imposed social exile.
After meeting a coffee-thief, the clouds seem to dissipate a bit for the main character. Unfortunately, in this moment of just maybe also came my moment of despair. Even through all the coffee-thief’s bravado, I can sense that not all is as it seems and my heart breaks immediately. In the first instance of meeting this thief, I fell for him hook, line, and sinker. I have no idea who this person is, and my soul is already shattered for him.
In that moment the coffee-thief seems to provide possibility of ‘more’, but it still isn’t enough. I can sense that the frail threads that are the main character are still loosening themselves. And it takes a stone-thrower to pull the few loose ends.
The life-altering tragedy of what happened to the main character and the way she unravels is so poetic that I was actually expecting an iambic pentameter somewhere in the midst of all the emotional brutality. After the gut-wrenching beat-down, it’s evident that the threads were suffocating her to the brink of nonexistence. With the help of the stone-thrower, she’s able to breathe.
About half way through, my hands begin to shake. I notice that I’m sweating, and the part of my brain that’s trying to protect my heart is telling me to put the book down. PUT THE FUCKING BOOK DOWN! It’s like having the ability to see three seconds into the future; just enough time to know, but not enough time to do anything about it. The stone-thrower is tearing my mending heart into a gazillion pieces. By the next chapter, I’m fighting nausea, wiping my tears and my snotty nose with my sleeve. There is nothing I can do to stop the destruction that’s about to occur, and I know this will only get worse.
But eventually it does get better. The main character has the unconditional love of the soccer player she reconnected with, the waitress she adores, the devoted study partner, and the coffee-thief who is the platonic love of her life.
But my original distress comes back with a vengeance and incapacitates me like a bullet through my guts.
The world of the coffee-thief, the waitress, the study partner, and the stone-thrower has been so damaged that the main character’s tragedy for a moment pales in comparison. It makes one want to inflict pain on those who wronged them regardless of their fictional status. It makes one want to take a black Sharpie and remove any mention of them. The one who wronged them is also the one that keeps everyone together and that is their only saving grace.
This is a story about bearing crosses that are too big for any one to carry alone. It’s a story about believing in the ability to just believe. It’s about love, and knowing that no matter how it’s done, it’s all-consuming and unconditional. It’s about hope for one day....
Simply, it’s a magnificent piece of fiction - one that transcends all genres.