A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Left Drowning features many vivid descriptions of sex, including intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, and more, including a character who wants her boyfriend to hit her during sex. Blythe's parents died in a tragic fire, which she recounts in detail, and Chris details horrific abuse at the hands of his father who both physically and psychologically tortured his siblings and him (he was beaten by a mallet, forced to carry heavy objects, nearly drowned in a toilet, and more). There's plenty of mature language, and lots of drinking until drunkenness, including by the main character (who's of legal drinking age). Another character gets a DUI and later has to go to rehab to get his drinking under control.
What's the story?
Blythe has been a drunken and depressed mess since her parents died in a tragic fire four years ago, but when she meets Chris -- and his offbeat but incredibly close brothers and sister -- she begins to be able to remember what actually happened that night, and build a new, healthier life for herself that includes studying, running, and hanging out with friends. But while she and Chris share an incredible attraction, and even hook up one steamy night, he says he's not ready for a relationship with her. Blythe understands he has demons of his own, but she isn't sure he will let her in to his past, even after telling him, \"You saved me. And I wish that you would let me save you.\"
Is it any good?
Well, this isn't full of subtlety or complex characters; readers won't even get a real sense of Blythe, the protagonist, or why everyone seem to think she's so special. Chris' siblings -- including drama geek Sabin, tough-talking Jesus freak Estelle and her sweet gay twin, Eric -- come across as especially two-dimensional.
In the end, this is a book full of descriptive sex scenes, dramatic fights and revelations, and philosophical talk about fate vs. chance -- all held together by some pretty over-the-top plotting. (Because of their pasts, both Blythe and Chris are wealthy, so this drama often takes place in hotel suites or huge houses overlooking water). Really, really mature readers who like racy romances might appreciate that this book does include a positive message: With love and support (and in some cases, therapy), the characters learn to have happy lives despite awful, tragic pasts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the emerging new adult genre, which features characters in their early 20s. What makes this different from a YA book?
Left Drowning features some pretty intense material, including explicit sex scenes. What age would you recommend it for?
Should a book ever be off-limits to a reader? Who should be able to decide what you get to read?
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