The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard
Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she's felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she's determined to make it work - if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who's about to enter high school.
Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can't be trusted. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can't help but find sophisticated Kelsey's interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.
But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz's relationship with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it's not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control.
Review by Brittany:
I requested a copy of this novel through NetGalley because the blurb intrigued me. This is my first book by this author to read, and I absolutely loved it.
I was drawn into the story from the very first page. The book starts out in the present time and switches back and forth between the present and the past. In the present, there is the body of a teenage girl floating in Liz's pool, and the chapters about the past fill in the blanks about Kelsey and her connection to Liz, Phil, and Danielle.
The book also tells the story from both Phil's and Liz's point of view, so the reader gets extra pieces of information. I like this style of writing, and it worked particularly well in this story. Liz and Phil end up at odds, with Liz believing a version of events that did not happen in the way she thinks. Having both perspectives gives the reader the truth, but it also outlines Liz's thoughts and shows how she came to those conclusions.
Kelsey's character is at the heart of the story, although the reader never gets to experience her point of view. She is clearly complex, showing multiple versions of herself throughout the story, depending on the audience at the time. She is a character who I sort of hate but also sort of love.
The ending of the book - the reveal of what happened to Kelsey in the pool - was not totally clear to me until I got there. I liked how I had an uneasy feeling about it but didn't know what had happened. There is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, leaving the reader to wonder how things will work out for the McGinnis's.
Overall, I loved this book. The suspense kept me reading and turning pages, dying to get to the end. This author sucked me in from the first page and kept me hooked, and I felt like her story really delivered. I definitely recommend!
For a long time, I'd wanted to go back, to pin our relationship to a wall and study it, like a specimen, from every angle. I wanted to be able to say: Here. This is where it all went wrong. This was the point at which the inevitable was not yet evitable.
But she was still there, if only in my thoughts - like the black widow Liz had spotted in our house in Livermore. Once she knew it was there, she claimed she couldn't rest easy.
Phil and I found ways to talk to each other without really talking, to apologize without really apologizing.
This was the great trick that social media had played on us. Take any image, pair it with any language, and the two were linked.
I suppose she'd lived long enough to know that sometimes it wasn't better in the morning. Sometimes, in fact, it was worse.
I didn't believe a person could ever know another person wholly, inside out, and I was okay with that. Because inside, there were some ugly things, the blood and guts, the things that were better buried, better unsaid.