Drowning Instinct was the book that made me realize that I needed to step away from these kind of contemporaries for a while. It's so real and honest and gritty that it hurts me to read. To see a child hurting kills me. Ilsa killed me with Jenna. She was so wounded and so alone and when she finally found the support she needed it was wrenched away from her again. And the story leaves you hanging. Kind of. You know what happens but you really DON'T. You can kinda tell how Jenna's going to do but you don't REALLY know and it's a killer. Is she okay, Ilsa? Please tell me.
Like Draw the Dark, the story is a bit drawn out and slow at points but that's really the only nominally negative thing I can say about Drowning Instinct and Ilsa's writing in general. She gets so thoroughly into her characters' heads its scary, like she could be automatic writing with a ghost or something. Or she trances out and channels the characters living inside of her. When she's writing she's not Ilsa, she's Jenna and that's why it feels so realistic. That's why every pang and pain and piece of anger jumps off of the page, grabs you by the collar and shakes you until you feel it too. It can't be helped. The story won't let you walk away without feeling something.
Jenna isn't just your average overcoming, strong heroine. She's life. She's reality. She's a piece of soul torn and put through the wringer. It's like you can hear her whispering the story in your ear. As she's talking into that recorder the cop gave her, it's like she's sitting right next to you and she's looking you dead in the eye while she's telling it. She isn't just a character that's been through some terrible crap. She hit the delete button at the end of the story and you don't even know if there's hope. But you pray there is. Because you're looking at her and you have to hope. You have to carry on her hope.
Submitted by Lynn Carpenter
Five Points West Library
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