Oct 27, 2013

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick

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Contemporary/ Realistic Fiction


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.



This book just blew me away!

This book has stolen my attention right from its very first line.
It´s stunning, scary, unpredictable and beautiful. 
This book is a definite MUST HAVE!

An older man and a teenage girl. Bittersweet romance. Your first thought must be Lolita? High school teacher and troubled student. Sounds like a recipe for disaster or at least some jail time. But, although situations like this would ordinarily cause me to cringe because I´m a school teacher, I actually felt... hope for these two tragically broken people... This is a taboo romance story with student-teacher relationship in which there are no stereotypical predators or victims. These people are damaged, but are they monsters in this book? No, they just made some bad decisions and this sure is their complicated love story. Monsters are some other characters who ruined their lives in the start. 

The story is told in Jenna's voice as she "confesses" the truth of an incident into a policeman's tape recorder. Her family is dysfunctional (Psycho dad/cheater, alchocolic mother, grandfather- pedophile, a brother away at war...) and she finds escape in delusions and pain (selfharm). She is a cutter and she spend some time in Psycho ward. 
Then she moves to a new school and meets Mr. Anderson. He becomes the only one who sees her and brings her to the truth, but he is just as broken as she is...

" I´d never heard a man cry before, Bob, but...it´s awful. (...) I think some man aren´t used to it and don´t know what to do with all that feeling. Their emotions are hexane ignited in their chests and rips them apart, and then they feel like they´re going to die-just as something was dying, at that moment in Mitch." 

 Two of them pull strength from each other's tragedies... but, at the same time, they destroy each other and themselves. 

“They call it the drowning instinct. It´s when drowning doesn´t look like drowning. In real life, if the water´s very cold, a person can´t help but gasp. It´s reflex. The thing is as soon as water hits your lungs, your throat closes off, even it the water´s warm. Your body´s trying to protect itself, and the reality is that a lot more people suffocate than truly drown. Regardless, to people on land, especially when you´re really close to the end, you don´t look like you´re in trouble. You don´t scream, but that´s because you can ´t, and you don´t wave your arms either or expend a lot of energy flailing. You´re just there. So people don´t notice that you´re drowning.

That´s me. I think I´ve been drowning all this time and doing it so quietly, even I didn´t know it.” 

My favorite part is the ending:

"You probably want me to regret Mitch. You want me to see that he lied, was some kind of predator; that I´m the victim, like you said. But Mitch was broken, too, in his way and just as much a hostage to his past and his mistakes. Maybe by trying to fix me, he was also healing himself in the only way he knew how.
Oh, I can just hear you now. You and every therapist who ever lived will say that I´m rationalizing, that I´ve identified with a monster, just like those kids do who are kidnapped and live in a cage for twenty years. You´ll want to see me as damaged somehow, and then you´ll try to cure me. Well, I got news for you, Bobby-o.
Cured is just synonym for coming around to your way of thinking.
Cured is the word you use when I finally agree.
But here´s the problem with that, Bobby-o. You and the therapists can yammer until you´re blue in the face, but I just can´t agree with you and probably never will.
Because Mitch gave me love. He handed me back my life and that doesn´t make me a victim." 
Ilsa J. Bick has a way with words. This is possibly one of the most emotionally intense books I have ever read. This story has a bittersweet romance and a plot that leads you on an emotional roller coaster.

I recommend it to anyone who wants to read something that is neither black nor white, but just like the real life, very very grey.

Until next time,
stay naughty...


  1. This looks amazing! I definitely never heard of this before but putting it on my to-read list :)

  2. I've had my eye on this book for some time, but it just sounds so HEARTBREAKING.
    I mean even reading your review gives me goosebumps, because this woman DOES have a way with words. Even though I haven't read the book, I can feel it from the passages you quoted.
    Although the bittersweet part makes me want to wait some before I jump into the book so I am prepared.

    Wonderful review Red! :)

  3. Oh I have this sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me. It sounds so amazing and I love that you say its emotionally intense. I have to make time for it soon!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

  4. Ooh, this sounds like such a good read! I actually really enjoy the teacher/student taboo, because like you said it's neither black nor white. I never really know where I stand on it, and dang it makes me feel. I love bittersweet! Awesome review, girly! I really hope that I get to read this! <3

  5. I read this after everyone and their brother told me I had to and loved it as well. I agree that it's a really powerful novel, I was wishing for a happy ending as well!


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