Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin
A lyrical and deeply moving portrait of grief, blame, and forgiveness, and of finding the courage to confront your ghosts — one truth at a time.Publishes in US: March 12th 2013 by Candlewick
As soon as she was under, Maggie heard the quiet, though every sound was amplified in her ears and in her brain...Sound, like shame, travels four times faster under the water.
Though only a sophomore, Maggie Paris is a star on the varsity swim team, but she also has an uncanny, almost magical ability to draw out people’s deepest truths, even when they don’t intend to share them. It’s reached a point where most of her classmates, all but her steadfast best friend, now avoid her, and she’s taken to giving herself away every chance she gets to an unavailable — and ungrateful — popular boy from the wrestling team, just to prove she still exists. Even Maggie’s parents, who are busy avoiding each other and the secret deep at the heart of their devastated family, seem wary of her. Is there such a thing as too much truth?
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Surfacing is a quick read, but I liked it. I liked the premise of her almost magical ability that draws the truth from people and I love the themes of grief and blame that ultimately give way to forgiveness, so I knew that I needed to read this one.
Maggie was an enjoyable character and I saw a lot of character growth in her. I think a part of this is that the story is told partly in flashbacks, which is on the line of middle grade and young adult contemporary. It deals with some pretty hard core issues, but it is never gratuitously graphic, although there are scenes I wouldn't want a sixth grader to read, so I don't know. In parts (I did get a bit confused of the time line) she is only in 6th grade, but at some point she is a sophomore, because that is what the back of the book says... I am not sure where this transition is... This didn't take away from enjoying Maggie, although her voice is younger in some parts, which leads me to think middle grade.
I really liked her best friend Julie. It was a quick form relationship as young kids, and she stuck by her and learned her nuances but loved her anyways. But she isn't just a cookie cutter, she has a personality and she questions and tries to get quieter Maggie to talk to her instead of just abandoning her like others seem to do because they end up telling her things they don't want to be out in the open.
I labeled this as contemporary because I was never quite sure about her ability. I know that some people are just easy to talk to and tell secrets to. So I think that the almost magical is key word.
The ending was more open ended and sad that I would like, but I think it fits the themes of the book.
Bottom Line: This is a sweet but dark story with a likable protagonist.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you felt like you could tell your secrets to a stranger?