Thursday, March 27, 2014
Below, by Meg McKinlay
Cassie's lungs were underdeveloped at birth, and her doctor requires her to swim six laps a day, every day, to exercise them. But the pool is always overcrowded, and Cassie is tired of people doing cannonballs on top of her when she's just trying to swim her laps. So one day she goes to the man-made lake. Not only is it fascinating because it's Lower Grange's own personal Atlantis, but because her family history lies there, a history that her parents and adult siblings made together that she, a late intruder into their lives, cannot share. Day after day, Cassie begins to swim in the lake, soon joined by Liam, a boy just enough older than she to have been born in Old Lower Grange, and whose family suffered a tragedy there. It doesn't take long before the kids realize the water level is sinking; the top of the fire lookout tree is now several feet above the surface. And then they start diving, and the mayor catches them, and gets way, way too upset. The rest of the plot is concerned with dredging up what the mayor's been trying to keep submerged.
I loved the language and writing style, especially since just prior to this book I'd tried to read another one that was so "loud and chatty" I had to put it down. Also, the midpoint of the plot is absolutely riveting. I had some quibble with the pacing though; I found it a bit slow to get underway and at the same time too rushed in the end. There was some symbolism that just kind of came and went. It's a short read, which in a sense I liked, but in another sense I'd like to have seen way, way more done with this material and these characters. All in all, I enjoyed it. Recommended.