Mar 25, 2013

Review: Below by Meg McKinlay

Below by Meg McKinlay
May 14th, 2013 from Candlewick

On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, who wears oversized swim trunks to cover the scars on his legs, joins Cassie in her daily swims across the off-limits side of the lake. As the summer heats up, the water drops lower and lower, offering them glimpses of the ghostly town and uncovering secrets one prominent town figure seems anxious to keep submerged. But like a swimmer who ventures too far from shore, Cassie realizes she can’t turn back. Can she bring their suspicions to light before it’s too late — and does she dare?

I saw this book and was immediately struck by the cover! The concept of swimming over a ghost town covered in water completely freaked me out. Who knows what is down there and what could float up? Turns out, that all comes into play. My favorite part of this story was Cassie's description about how she doesn't quite fit in  - not with her town and certainly not with her family. She was born unexpectantly on the day the switch was thrown and the water covered the town. Ever since she was born she has seen herself as an outsider. Her family has fond memories of the old house and the laughs they all shared before Cassie came along. I identified with Cassie a lot considering she has much older siblings like me. I've been in many similar situations where I couldn't relate or I didn't get the inside joke. Feeling like a fifth wheel with your own family is for the birds. Cassie would agree.

Cassie uses swimming to relax, vent, and to heal her born too early lungs. This is where the creepy lake (with possibly floating cats, okay that's just my imagination) comes in. See, she isn't supposed to swim there - it is completely off limits. Cassie and her friend Liam, a boy who is living with his own family tragedy  say to hell with it and swim there anyway. They begin to notice the lake is getting low and certain people are determined to keep the two out. Mysteries start unraveling and they aren't all perfectly predictable. My mind kept inching towards the worse possible scenario and then back to reality again. Several times...

The first half of this book is excellent and there is quite a scary story arc in the middle that made me hold my breath for several pages. All in all, I really enjoyed! Ages 9+

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You can find McKinlay at her website