“‘Look,’ says the detective. He stares down at the girl huddled on the gurney. Despite a half dozen blankets, the poor kid is still shaking as badly as when they pulled her from the water an hour ago. Another ten, fifteen minutes in that lake, Bob Pendleton thinks, and she might not have made it either. ‘Just tell me the truth. The truth can’t hurt.'”
Jenna has recently been released from a mental health unit. Psycho-Dad thinks she’s ‘cured’ but Jenna knows that’s just wishful thinking, there’s still plenty wrong with her. Like for example her parents constant arguing, her mums drinking, her dads way of ignoring her and what she thinks, her brothers inability to visit, and now a new school to tackle. The only person who seems to take any interest in her and care for her is Mr Anderson, her chemistry teacher, and soon the lines between teacher and student blur. The two become closer and soon Mr Anderson is the only one she can trust. But now she’s in a hospital, and she’s telling her story to a detective…
Drowning Instinct is going to be a really hard book for me to review, whilst I thought it was fantastic and really gripping, I can’t process all my feelings right now and I can’t talk about some things as they will seriously wreck the story for those who haven’t read it!
The story is pretty hard hitting,mostly it’s Jenna talking into a cording device which the detective gave her. It’s her taking us through from the moment she was discussing Turing school with her parents and therapist after leaving a mental health ward to her starting at the school, becoming friendly with Mr Anderson and up until the point she’s at now. She’s in the hospital having somehow found her way into a lake and because of her mental health background I was convinced she had found her way into that lake I order to commit suicide, however there’s so much more to it than that.
The story is about love, the love between parents and their daughter, the love beaten parents, between family members and the first love you really find yourself in. Mr Anderson was Jenna’s first love but its so much more complicated than that because of the age, the relationship they are meant to have and the lies that both of them tell. Jenna is mostly open with Mr Anderson and its her recounting of their relationships that tell us what we need to know to understand the pair of them. However Jenna constantly reminds us that she is reselling this to a voice recorder in a hospital bed by the referrals to Bob / Bobby-o. I really loved this narrative style but it took a lot of getting used to so the beginning of the book was a bit slow to me.
Jenna is not the only messed up one in the book and I really enjoyed what Isla J Bick was trying to do with Drowning Instinct. She made it appear that there is very little pure good and pure evil in the world. I can think of two, maybe three people in the book who I would say are pure evil but other than that the lines are blurred, even mr Anderson, who really should be branded a sexual predator, can be described as nice and kind. He didn’t take advantage of Jenna, they took advantage of each other, but he probably should have known better.
The book shows us how the people around shape us, especially when we are younger. Jenna was shaped by her grandmothers death, her mothers relationship with her grandfather, the way her parents were around us and her brother. There were a lot of messed up things about Jenna’s life and they all piled up to bring us what we see on these pages, which isn’t that structured.
I was constantly shocked by revelations in Jenna’s story and I loved how much that kept me hooked in. Drowning Instinct isn’t and easy read, but it is a fantastic one.
Drowning Instinct will be published by Quercus on February 28th. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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