Tuesday, July 5, 2016

To Swim Beneath the Earth

Title:  To Swim Beneath the Earth
Author:  Ginger Bensman
Publication Information:  Horn Rimmed Editions. 2015. 356 pages.
ISBN:  0996295704 / 978-0996295703

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It's a long way from Denver to Bogota."

Favorite Quote:  "We all need to grieve sometimes, to come to terms with our losses. If only is dangerous, it has a ways of stealing from the present; it turns the past into poison."

Megan Kimsey is a young woman haunted by visions she cannot understand. Megan Kimsey is a young woman misunderstood by most who surround her. Megan Kimsey is a young woman who needs answers from the past to move on to her future.

Megan Kimsey's story has four main components. The first is her present life, where she sees visions but most of the family around her thinks she suffers from a psychological disorder. The second is a short period of time during Megan's teenage years. She witnesses a traumatic event - the death of a child she loves - and is haunted by that event. The third is Megan's search for answers and for a reason behind the visions she has seen all her life. The fourth is the past; Megan's answers are to be found in the heart of the ancient Inca civilization.

The beginning of the book sets up an entire dynamic for Megan's family. Megan was close to her father who passes away shockingly and suddenly. She has a strained relationship with her mother. Her siblings are on the periphery of these relationships, as is Dr. Vickers, Megan's doctor and her mother's friend. Megan has always had visions, but of her family, only one believes in her. The family dynamics are laid out but not really explored. I keep expecting the story to get back to Megan's present life, but it never does. Once Megan leaves Denver, her family leaves the picture except in a brief glimpse at the end of the book. Much is left undeveloped and unresolved.

The story of Megan's teenage years is perhaps the most implausible portion of the book. A well-loved, well cared for child freezes on a front porch, leaving Megan devastated. How does it happen? Why? The answer is never made clear except that it does happen. How it ties into Megan's story also becomes clear as the book goes on, but upon first reading, it is jarring.

Megan's search leads her to Colombia and Ecuador and a whole host of new characters. Historians, archaeologists, and doctors all play a part in Megan's story. They introduces variations of belief and disbelief, similar to what a reader may experience when reading Megan's story. The only misplaced aspect of this part of the story is that introduction of a romance. It is totally unnecessary; I would prefer the story of a strong young woman coming to terms with her entire life rather than one entering into a new relationship while on this journey of self-discovery.

The story of the past is the haunting one in this book. The descriptions of the place even in the present seems as if they are from a different time, separate and isolated from the rest of the world. The gradual revelations of the past are beautifully done and keep you guessing as to what happens next. I did guess the eventual resolution, but the shock of it still created an emotional reaction. I love books that can do that!

The book has an epilogue which moves forward and says what happens. In this case, I am so glad because I want to leave the book knowing what happens to Megan. I love a book that can make me care about a character like that!

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment