Drowning by Margaret McHeyzer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Drowning is the first Margaret McHeyzer book I have read, and there is no doubt I will be back for more. This one hit me in all the right places, and I’m desperate to see what else Margaret McHeyzer can do to me.
Despite how intrigued I was by the notion of this book, there was some uncertainty in place. I’m always open to books dealing with heavy topics, but when it’s a topic I have personal experience with I find myself fearful of how well it will be done. Thus, I was both excited and nervous to read this one.
Quickly, I realised my fears were unfounded. There was no reason for my nervous, as this book does a wonderful job of dealing with many heavy topics. The self-harm element of the story is well done: it looks at more than just the act itself, dealing with all the fears that go with it (the fear someone will find out, the fear someone knows, the fears of what you will do when it comes to clothing, and so many other fears many may not realise are associated with the act), the individual feelings towards the act (the good and the bad), and the way in which others respond. The mental health element is also really well done: it is a central aspect to the story, and it has a large focus on bringing to light the stigma and fears surrounding mental health. There is another element that is really well done, but I’m not going to say what it is. You get hints of it throughout the story, so you can guess what is coming, but I’m not going to say what it is before you get the chance to dive in – just know, the heavy topic I have not mentioned is also dealt with really well. There’s also a part in the middle of the book that was completely unexpected and equally heavy – and again, it was done really well.
In fact, this is one of the best books I have read in a long time when it comes to dealing with heavy topics. It’s a diverse story – the characters and the events – and all is done really well. You’re sucked into the story, into the lives of the characters, and you cannot help but feel. It’s very much a character driven story, you spend a lot of time inside the head of our main character, coming to understanding how she is feeling. The events that do occur all hit hard, ensuring you’re sucked in deep.
There is no doubt this is a heavy read, that this is a book people should read. It deserves to consumed, it deserves attention, and the more people who read this the more eyes that can be opened. I’m not trying to preach here, I’m not suggesting the book is either, but it is one of those books that will make people sit back and think.
The only thing to stop me from giving a five-star rating was the romance. I enjoyed it a lot – the way the characters grew, the way they dealt with their problems – but I felt as though it wasn’t quite given the focus it could have been towards the end. There was such a connection between the characters early in the book, and I wished to see the same level of intensity at the point where fears were being faced. It was well done, but I would have liked more. Hence, this is more of a four-point-five-star read: I loved it, but it wasn’t quite enough for me to round up.
Overall, this one hit me hard, in the best way possible, and it’s going to take a while for me to find my equilibrium again.
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