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Left Drowning #1

Left Drowning

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What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.
Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+

399 pages, Paperback

First published July 16, 2013

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About the author

Jessica Park

17 books4,196 followers
Jessica is the author of 180 SECONDS, CLEAR, The Left Drowning Series (LEFT DROWNING and RESTLESS WATERS), the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (& the companion novella FLAT-OUT MATT), FLAT-OUT CELESTE, and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

Please visit her at jessicapark.me and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjessic... and Twitter @JessicaPark24

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Profile Image for Aestas Book Blog.
1,059 reviews74.8k followers
August 19, 2013

This book was magic! A well crafted story that built slowly and quietly in intensity. Jessica Park's writing is beautifully detailed and painfully honest. Left Drowning sneaks up on you. One moment you're fine, the next moment you can barely breathe.

I was emotionally invested in this story right from the book's dedication. I'm going to share it with you here because it's just so beautiful and truly sets the tone for the entire story:

"This book is for everyone who has survived. You are not broken. You can love and be loved, despite what may feel like the eternally brutal nature of the world. Even when you're drowning and so far under, there is always time to reach for someone who will teach you how to breathe again."

I love books that surprise me and go down paths that I'm not expecting. On the surface, this is the story of a girl who is essentially drowning in the tragedy of her past, of losing everyone she's loved in one way or another, and who is unable to let go of the pain. Then she meets this guy and for the first time since her life shattered, he makes her feel safe and whole and begins to help her heal. But the more she finds out about him, the more she realizes that despite his strong and protective exterior, he too is hurting just as much on the inside and is deeply scarred by his past... and maybe, she might have to save him too.

"I wish he wouldn't look at me, I also wish he'd never stop."

"We both have pasts full of pain and... he emanated survival in the way I want to."

"I could breathe him in forever. I could fall in love forever."

The first half of this book is very, very slow building... even sweet at times. It wasn't gripping at first but it was totally engaging -- taking the time to connect you with the characters. I loved that it was about more than just the romance though, it was also just as much a story about family -- about strong, beautifully resilient sibling bonds. The sibling dynamics in this story were just gold! Sabin! Oh gosh, everyone should have a Sabin in their lives <3

Blythe and Chris fell in love quietly. But as drawn to each other as they were, something was holding Chris back and she couldn't quite figure out what it was. Despite their undeniable connection, he kept pulling away.

"I went too far with you and I shouldn't have. I'm not really boyfriend material." …
"Did you ever consider that I'm not girlfriend material?"…
"Yes, you are. You're outstanding girlfriend material. I'm the one who's all kinds of fucked up. Trust me."

But I loved that despite their strong physical and the magnetic pull between them, the first thing to develop between them was really just their bond. It was something stronger than friendship, a very deeply rooted connection that went beyond anything romantic.

This isn't about sex or lust. It's about closeness, and safety…
"You'll stay?"
"Always," he says.

As a reader, I'm usually all about the upfront commitment in a relationship but I could feel in my heart from the very start that they were right for each other and was just happy to watch their relationship develop slowly.

Then out of no where, this book went from quiet to INTENSE!! There was this scene in particular where it really just slammed right into me. Everything about it - the vivid descriptions, the character dynamics, the intensity was just absolutely powerful and felt so real.

Both Blythe and Chris were deeply scarred by their pasts in different and yet lasting ways. I loved that they each understood each other fell in love with the person who their scars had shaped them to be. It was real. They were shaped by their scars and their pain but were healed by their love and their bond.

But I got so comfortable in the gentle pacing of the first half of the book that the intensity really snuck up on me. One minute I was fine, the next minute I swear to God I felt my heart break. Literally break. It blind sided me and was so fucking painful I felt it in my soul. Ice flooded my veins in an instant. I teared up. My heart was in my throat. I couldn't believe what I was reading. Seriously.. bring tissues, guys.

As it continued, my heart was slowly ripped out. I felt sick to my stomach and this is a real tribute to Jessica Park's writing because without the slow build up that had first bonded me to the characters, what happened would never have hit me this hard.

And then, just when I thought my heart was hurting as much as it possible could, it shattered. Fucking shattered. I don't even have words for it. I was too hurt to cry. In shock, pain, betrayal. I felt everything that Blythe felt. This wasn't how the story was supposed to go.

Few books have made me feel this helpless before as a reader just watching the story careening out of my control down the wrong path. I just read chanting in my mind "this can't be happening. This can't be happening. This can't be fucking happening!"

So I seriously can't tell you how relived felt when things began to get fixed. Ohhhhh the relief. I clung to every shred of hope.

"I want more than anything for the power of us together to be stronger than the power of the damage. If I still believed in God, in anything, I would be praying."

I loved the way it all came together in the end. I've sat and thought about it a little now and I realize that I had all the pieces of the story all along. But just the way your mind protects you from remembering certain memories before you're ready, I think my mind was keeping me back from piecing everything until then end. There were definitely elements that I suspected but I never realized just how entwined everything was.

This book deals with heavy themes and heart breaking realities highlighting the damage done and marks left by an abusive home. But it also shows the beautiful resilience of siblings bonds, and the salvation and healing power of love -- of loving someone unconditionally not in spite of their scars but because of who their scars had shaped them to be.

"This is all sorts of fucked up."
"I know, baby. I know. But the best kind of fucked up."

Left Drowning will touch your heart and take you on a powerful and beautifully crafted journey of love, loss, survival and healing.

It has a happy ending , guys. Please don't be scared off by the intensity I was talking about. This is an absolute must-read! There's a little bit of everything in it -- humour, heart ache, healing... and most importantly, a happy ending :)

"What are you doing?"
"Loving you," he says simply. "If you'll let me."
"Always. God, always."

Left Drowning lived up to my every expectation. Everyone should put this book on their radar!

5 stars.


BLURB --> What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own.

As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery.

But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.

Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+


For more of my reviews, book news and updates:
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Profile Image for Christy.
3,813 reviews32.4k followers
April 20, 2015

5 Beyond Incredible Stars!!!

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Emotional, beautiful, stunning, shocking, amazing. I am at a loss for words. I have been an avid reader most of my life. All through elementary, middle school, high school, college etc I have been reading several books a week. It’s not a new thing for me. I’m sure in the span of my twenty seven years I have read thousands of books. Maybe a dozen of those books have effected me the way this book did. I wish I could put it into words how I felt while reading this, but I can’t. Not really, not eloquently. To say it moved me, touched me, or made me feel would be an understatement. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year, hell- it’s one of the best books I have read, period.

When we are first introduced to Blythe, she is stumbling home from to her dorm room alone, drunk. It is her senior year of college, yet she is completely alone. She has no friends. She keeps to her self. She is just existing. Something traumatic happened to her family four years ago, and she blames herself. She’s never really gotten over it. One day, in the cafeteria she meets a guy named Sabin. He becomes her bff whether she likes it or not. He is just that type of guy. Then, that same day, she meets Christopher, skipping rocks by the lake. Christopher happens to be Sabin's older brother. She feels something. Something for Chris? She doesn't know what the feeling is, but for the first time in years, she feels. Chris and Blythe become fast friends. They share a deep rooted connection. It's almost as if they are being pulled together somehow.

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One thing has become crystal clear to me overnight: I have never felt as close to anyone as I do to Chris. It is not from the amount of time we've spent together, but from the strength of the unquestionable bond we share.

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Chris and Blythe’s relationship is so difficult to describe. They are friends first, but they share this connection, this unexplainable bond. The more time they spend together, the more you can tell that they both want more. But for some reason, if they get too close, Chris pushes away. Blythe doesn’t know what to do about it. Not only is there Chris and Sabin in the Shepard clan, but they have a younger twin brother and sister, Eric and Estelle. Blythe finally feels like she has a family again. Finally, she feels like she belongs. She doesn’t want to do anything to mess that up.
I am hit with the enormity of the impact that this family is having in my life. They, and mostly Chris, are saving me. Or teaching me to save myself.

Blythe can tell that some of the Shepards have some issues, they aren’t perfect either, but she doesn’t care. They love her and treat her like family, and she loves them too.

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Other people have problems and haunted pasts, just as I do. I am not alone.

More than anyone else, Chris is able to break down some of Blythe’s barriers. Get her to open up in a way she hasn’t since her parents died.

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With his help, she is able to breathe again, live again.

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Things are back and forth with these two for a while. Blythe still has her demons, but she seems like an entirely different person now. She cares. She starts to make an effort with her brother, school, her life. Christmas break changes everything between Blythe and Christopher.

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After the time Blythe and Chris spend together, they will never be the same. They have this chemistry, and just they are just a perfect fit for each other. I’m not going to go into detail here, but I went from being elated, ecstatic, to freaking heartbroken and destroyed. Park has a way of making you feel like you are Blythe, and your heart is being ripped directly out of your chest. I was devastated. Destroyed. From about 64%- maybe close to 80% I cried/sobbed the entire time. Almost one whole hour of tears. They just wouldn’t stop.

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‘Being with you let me feel, feel everything, and I needed that. I remembered better with you, I healed better with you, and you made... you made everything real.’ I stop. Now I really understand.

Blythe was saved by the Shepard family. Now it’s time for her to help save them.
I am going to fight with everything that I am to save him and to save us, but I won’t be able to do it alone.

The ending was just... wow. Seeing everything come together like that gave me goosebumps. We had all the pieces, I had most of them put together, but still.
‘We’re like... puzzle pieces that fit together.’

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‘I love you simply because I do. And that’s it. That’s the only goddamn thing that matters. I love every single part of you.’

This book... this damn book. The journey is wonderful, beautiful, and intense. Even though you will cry, please know that in the end, everything will be okay. Don’t let that scare you from reading this magnificent book. Blythe is such a strong character. Her growth was phenomenal and inspiring. I fell in love with most every character in this book. Blythe, the Shepard siblings, Zach, James, I loved them all. It isn’t all devastating, emotional etc, it’s very funny at times, and the sex scenes are incredible. You will have all types of feelings while reading this, I was depressed at first, then I felt hopeful. I felt elated, I felt heartbroken, destroyed, happy, sad, and finally- healed. This book will tear you apart, but you will end up whole again. Jessica Park is a superb writer. I loved Flat Out Love, but this is in a whole different league. No matter what type of genre you prefer, I would recommend this book to EVERYONE.

Profile Image for Judy.
319 reviews39 followers
May 30, 2014
Let me start off this review by saying: this book made me angry, and the last half of this book is utter trash. I don't get angry very easily and I don't call many stories trash because I can usually find something of value to salvage my opinion of them. This one just manages to boggle the mind on so many levels that I had to finish reading it just to find something where it will redeem itself. Regrettably, it did not and it absolutely deserves the one star rating that I am giving it.

I actually quite enjoyed the beginning of the book. I thought the introduction of Blythe drunk and stumbling around was quite humorous. I was intrigued by her situation, and wanted to find out why she is in such a state. She seemed like a lonely, lost, desperate girl, but one that was believable. So after four years of drinking herself into a stupor apparently, she encounters a boy in a coffee shop six months before graduation. And he apparently finds her utterly charming and invites her to some random show. I thought oookay, sure thing. Then she meets some boy on the side of a lake skipping stones that she is utterly drawn to because of how beautiful and strong and lean he is. Blah blah.

Really, the insta-love should have rung freaking alarm bells in my head, but I braved on because thankfully, there was no mention of any "electricity sparking between them" or whatever. And then she's all "hey, I just met you, but my parents died in a fire and I don't believe in god".

The appropriate response?
a) Lady, it's real nice to get to know you, but this is kind of heavy and I think you should see a therapist.
b) My mom died too. There is no god, not for us. *cue dramatic music*

Ooookay. Except what came next was much, much worse.

The progression of the next part of the novel was tolerable. Blythe spends time with Chris for the rest of the day and meets the rest of his family. Even though it was a bit weird that she masturbates to the thought of some stranger she just met and spent the day with, I was accepting of it because, hey what turns you on is what turns you on, right? And I don't mind the mention of female masturbation in novels because there should be more of it. So it's all good. Then for some reason, she decides to go running, I'm not sure how much time passes between that day and this day, but she's all needing his help since apparently he's the only person she has connected with in the four years she's spent on this campus. Why she hasn't failed out of university already or somehow harmed herself due to liver failure amazes me. But by this point I should have realized that this isn't a story about real people with genuine feelings and hopes and dreams and pasts that could actually happen. This is just an excuse to write sexy scenes and fantasy dramatic events that couldn't possibly occur in real life. Unfortunately I kept on reading because I missed all of these clues.

They make out, and he stops all of a sudden and says "this is wrong" and ushers her out of the room. She leaves thinking "I don't know why he thinks this is wrong, but it was hot so it's ok and I'll just smile because OMG my girl parts are tingling and finally feel something after all of these years." NO. I mean, NO. If a guy stops and say "it's wrong for us to make out" then you should probably have some sort of suspicion that maybe a) he is dating someone else or b) he grew up in a strict religious household or is repressing something.

By the way, so far I don't even know what she studies in university. It doesn't seem like it even matters. It doesn't even seem like she has any sort of future. How does she even pay for university anyway? Who knows. She doesn't need to study or go to labs or do anything college related anyway. She just needs to touch herself and obsess about Chris. Moving on.

We then suddenly switch to a third person flashback about Blythe helping some weird guy in the past, and then I am thinking "He's going to turn out to be THAT GUY, but it can't be that obvious, because that would be too much." I make myself forget about this scene since I'm hoping it won't come back to haunt me.

After some more scenes just to emphasize how close Blythe is getting to the rest of the family, and how amazingly they all get along. And golly gee don't you know that Blythe's roommate just happened to move out at the beginning of the year and how convenient it is that her new bestie Estelle, Chris' sister, is suddenly in need of a place to stay because she hates her roommate? (Her roommate woke her up by playing Michael Buble, so guess what she does? She starts using her vibrator! Look at how fun and amazing this new bestie is! How sexually free! How unrepressed! Honestly that is just kind of gross and unnecessary)

Other things happen and Blythe touches herself some more while fantasizing about Chris. Chris Chris Chris, this is all she ever thinks about. There's no mentions of going to class, of maintaining good grades, of something about what she's going to do after she graduates. She just exists at this moment in time, because that's what the purpose of this story is, to capture this impossible romance. Let's not pretend these are people.

Then there's some emotional stuff she has to deal with her brother and her parents' death, which was actually appropriate to the story and not too poorly done. I had hope then from this point that the story may actually progress to improving from the hole where it fell into.

Eh. No.

Chris and Blythe spend five days in a hotel having lots and lots of sex in all sorts of ways. And then they don't really clarify their relationship, but they flirt and stuff and spend lots of time together and she seems to be cool with it. She even told him before that she doesn't want a relationship, that they can just be friends, and he repeatedly tells her "You're too good for me" "I'm bad for you" "I'm not boyfriend material"

What I learned from New Adult novels. If a guy tells you that he's not boyfriend material, RUN. RUN AS FAR AS YOU CAN.

And don't pretend that you are "Just friends" when you are saying things like "I will never sleep with anyone besides Christopher Shepherd." That is CRAZY talk there, woman. You guys haven't even had a discussion about what THIS is and you are already pledging the rest of your life and your happiness to a guy who obviously has big issues? That's just...no.

Because they meet up a few weeks after this marathon sex fest and they're just hanging out with their group of friends and he even slaps her ass in front of them, then a bombshell drops. Chris is with some girl, who kisses him, and then she finds out, FROM HIS FAMILY, WHO ARE ALSO SUPPOSEDLY HER FRIENDS, that he is dating some girl and has been for a while.

I mean WTF. These people are NOT your friends. They do not have your back if they are going to see their brother date another girl when they obviously know that you are blindly in love with him. Do you know what happens in the future when something happens and the two of you get into a big fight? They are going to stand on his side. Forever and always. You are not number one to them, and they will turn on you, just like they've already turned on you by not letting you know about him dating this other girl.

Oh and by the way, he gets engaged to this other girl too. And she rationalizes what he does because "And that's why you can't ever be with me, isn't it? I make everything too real for you. She doesn't do that." You know what, Chris. BOOHOO for you that you had a terrible past and had to take care of your brother and sister. BOOHOO for you that you are so afraid to have a normal relationship and to have feelings. So you have to go and lead two women on. BOOHOO you are just a big, selfish asshole who doesn't want to be alone and you can go jump in a lake.

Then he comes back between the engagement and the wedding and uses Blythe again after his father has a heart attack. And now he's basically cheating on his fiancee and she lets him, so she's just as much of a jerk as he is. I mean, the poor other girl. Poor Jennifer, you are just some pathetic excuse for drama, created for the sake of providing an obstacle between Chris and Blythe. There's no need for you to have feelings or personality. There's no need for you to be anything but a name. You're not pretty, but you're not not-pretty. You're not a hot piece of ass. You're just no one.

I love how Chris' family don't warn the girl either. They just adore him and allow him to do whatever he wants, because he's apparently some sort of god.

Anyway of course the wedding doesn't happen and Blythe welcomes him back with open arms and they get some sort of happily ever after where they heal each other or whatever.


Some major problems with this book that repulsed me:

- Blythe finds out that Estelle is sleeping with a professor and also because of her upbringing may have some leanings towards BDSM. As a good friend of hers, do you ever ask her if there is something going on if there is anything you can do to help? Because this woman is obviously dealing with some issues? Oh no, Blythe just pretends everything is ok because obviously this story is just about Blythe and Chris' damaged relationship so other people with their own hurts and painful memories don't matter. Same with Sabin's drinking problem or James' own personal struggles. There could have been some emotional brother-sister sort of feelings here, but there were about two scenes of that.

- Even though there are lots of sexy scenes about making out and self masturbating and mutual masturbation and lots of orgasms, none of it felt real. It didn't feel real because Blythe and Chris' "love" is not real. There was no emotional connection that was built up over time, over little shared moments or connections. It's basically some steamy scenes where if you replace the characters' names, you could get the same response. In fact, it might even be even hotter, these scenes as one night stands. I started skipping these sex scenes because it doesn't really add to the story. Also, Blythe was a virgin that didn't touch herself for four years and I don't think she watched any porn, but man was she able to say some dirty, titillating things to Chris to get hot and he was like some dude with years of experience with his dirty talk. I felt like I was suddenly dropped into a porno, which provided a strange disconnect from the "dark" and "emotional" components of the story.

- It's supposedly "romantic" to have scars that complete each other. I mean that's morbid and strange. How everything came together was just this side of fucked up. They meet, somehow, when he was being punished by his father and she "saves" him. Then while his father was about to kill him, he is called away and saves her life. Then they meet, years later, and fall in love, with some sort of puzzle piece shaped scars that fit together. This is WEIRD, and not romantic at all. If this ever happened to me, I would be freaked out and I would think this was too much for me and I would leave. But I mean if this had happened to me, I would have not talked to him, ever, after he got engaged to the other girl. But hey, that's just me.

This is just like "Sea of Tranquility", "Where She Went" and other New Adult books that have been appearing lately. Angsty mcangst boys who have excuses for treating girls in their lives like utter crap, and the girls just give in, because it is TWU LUV and they are soulmates or some shit. The girl is usually a virgin or naive or innocent or all of the above, believing so very much in the hero even though he goes about doing his own thing and plays with people's emotions. But it doesn't matter because they are MEANT TO BE due to some ridiculous, unbelievable coincidences, and it just brings up a bad rendition of that song by Elton John about "Written in the Stars".

Like I mentioned in one of my status updates, this book is a crossover between Twilight and Korean drama. Twilight because the boy has a) some sort of secret, b) which prevents them from being together, c) has a close-knit family that welcomes and adores her, d) pushes away and then gives in to her attempts at seduction. Korean drama because a) they met each other in someway years before without knowing it, b) everybody in the story has some sort of tragic past and sob story, c) everything has to come full circle where their lives were interconnected from the start.

I have a feeling that people will enjoy this though, so don't take anything of what I said in this review seriously if you loved any of the above books that I mentioned (I do admit I have a weak spot for Korean dramas though).

And Chris is an asshole. The end.

(Last note: Cheers to Netgalley for letting me read this. It's pretty obvious that I am giving my honest opinion and I haven't been influenced by them when they provided this for my review)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kristin (KC).
251 reviews25.1k followers
October 11, 2014
*3 Stars*

Left Drowning is a touching, evocative tale that centers on a fate destined to be fulfilled. It heartbreakingly and heartwarmingly takes us on an emotional journey where life-altering friendships are formed, and painful but beautiful truths are uncovered.

If I'm being honest, I didn't enjoy this story as much as I thought I would, which pains me to admit because I loved Flat Out Love straight down to my toes. Jessica Park's writing is unique and displays such an ease and sophistication. I love that her characters are as odd as they are lovable and each present their own idiosyncrasies. Not to mention, she is the QUEEN of quick wit and adorable banter...

Although all of these alluring qualities were present in Left Drowning, I found there were ultimately too many over-the-top occurrences and not quite enough attention paid to them individually. There was also a bad case of the insta's: Insta-love, lust, friends, family--nothing felt gradual. There were parts of this story I felt were 3 star, and then there were some beautiful 5 star moments—leaving me extremely indecisive with my feelings.

After suffering the loss of her parents, Blythe remains numb and clings to the insurmountable guilt of that fateful day. When she meets the Shepherd siblings, they appear to be all the things she's not; happy, full of life and centered. She finds strength in their friendship as she gradually sinks back to reality.

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Chris Shepherd is an admirable, strong and sexy hero who appears composed and put together. He seems to appreciate life's simplicities, but shares one thing with Blythe—a tragic past which incessantly haunts him.

The relationship between Blythe and Chris was beautiful and intense—yet hesitant and complex. The anguish Chris harbored made it difficult to deem himself worthy, thus igniting much angst within their undefined 'relationship'.

When we are together, the world gets sharper, the past becomes unobstructed, and...the floodgates open.

Although the turns in the plot were fairly predictable, it didn't stop the chills from racing through my body when some of the anticipated dramatic scenes played out. The way everything was so intricately tied together truly took this touching story to a breathtaking plateau. Some of it was slightly outlandish, but beautiful nonetheless.

There were certain areas that felt fabricated and vaguely forced. For example: The strong family/friendship bond that these characters acquired was inspiring, but the 'we're all in this together' moments felt dramatic and overdone. All I kept hearing in the back of my mind was, "Goonies never say die!" However, I can't deny that the family dynamic was heartwarming, and Park composed an exemplary friendship that would seem fit to stand the test of time. (Plus, who doesn't love the Goonies?)

I also unfortunately never connected with Chris, and not because he was flawed. His character had the formula of an amazing hero--all the necessary ingredients intact--but I felt he never truly came to life. His persona was either being downplayed, or intensified without ever gaining a solid ground.

By the time the ending rolled in, I was slightly bored—Which felt entirely wrong because the wrap up was pretty monumental in relation to the story. For me, this story just didn't hold enough authenticity to capture my heart. The writing was spectacular, but the erratic plot lost me in areas. The shining moments were truly touching and I did love the message of hope, and how this story exemplified how tragedy and despair can initiate greater things to follow.

P.S. I dare you NOT to fall in love with Sabin! He is surely in need of his own book...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Book Stats:
▪ Genre/Category: Romance/New Adult
▪ Steam Caliber: Extremely and abundantly steamy!
▪ Romance: Gradual. Reluctant. *Meant to be*
▪ Characters: Quirky, flawed, lovable.
▪ Plot: Friendships and love formed and strengthened through past tragedies. Beautiful concept, but a heck of a lot going on.
▪ Writing: Engaging, witty, beautifully expressive.
▪ POV: 1st Person: Heroine
▪ Cliffhanger: None/standalone
▪ HEA?

*Arc provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Profile Image for Stephanie *Eff your feelings*.
239 reviews1,195 followers
September 3, 2014
This is one of the worst books I've ever read.


I'm not kidding.


I decided to get this book as a part of Kindle Unlimited. To be fair, this is not my normal read, but it was one of the most popular downloads, I checked it's ratings on goodreads, it had a shit ton of ratings averaging 4.25 and I've read a lot of wonderful books classified as YA, so I said to myself "What the hell." But soon I was asking myself "What the hell??"

Here, enjoy a nugget of shittasitic prose....

“At least one thing is certain: Chris and I are inextricably connected. Do I have factual reasons to know this? Proof? Assurances? No None. Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris.”

'I believe in Chris." ????? WTF?

I also began to wonder about the title, Left Drowning. That maybe it was in reference to all the bodily fluid byproduct from all the masturbation and sex Blythe and Chris engaged in during the course of this book. How innocent bystanders may have been harmed by the shear volume.

Oh the humanity.

Nothing, not one word written in this book was sexy and/or hot. I cannot stress this enough. Sure, there were cocks, and pussies (not the cute feline kind), asses and cocks and clits...oh my! All of it was gross.

Here.....read this.

“We run through the remnants of our pain, and more importantly, we run for our present and for our future. Together we kick heartbreak's ass.”


What I worry about most is how many people loved this book and found it profound in some way and rated it five stars. Normally, it do not judge people by the books they enjoy, but good god people, this is not great literature.

This isn't even decent porn.

Profile Image for Mysza.
476 reviews385 followers
May 30, 2017
Loved this one! Utterly beautiful, heartbreaking at times, emotional, angsty love story. With some serious steamy moments as a bonus and wonderful secondary characters. Highly recommend this one!
Profile Image for Ashley.
667 reviews716 followers
June 14, 2013
My review contains unmarked spoilers throughout.

Nose Graze — Book reviews

Oh boy. Strap yourselves in, guys. This is going to be one crazy—and slightly ranty—review.

Seriously though. If you don't like ranty reviews, don't read this. And I just want to say that I love the author to bits. I only met her for about 2 minutes, but she seems like a really nice woman and I seriously hope more than anything that she doesn't read this because it would kind of hurt my soul.

Let's start off with my overall enjoyment (or lack thereof) of Left Drowning :

Left Drowning by Jessica Park - Enjoyment Graph

I started off reading Left Drowning hopeful. I thought it would be the shining light of a hot, romantic, contemporary romance that would save me from a reading slump. How wrong I was.

My Rage-y Recap of the Plot

Left Drowning almost immediately takes a bad turn: insta-love. As soon as the troubled, depressed, self-critical Blythe meets Chris, she feels an "inexplicable attraction towards him." Red flag, red flag! But you know what, I decided to deal with it. At this point, I was fairly warmed up to both Blythe and Chris, so I thought I'd just suck it up and deal with the insta-love, thinking that would be the worst of it. But nope, I was wrong again; the worst was yet to come.

"Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris."
—Blythe, page 127

Chris and Blythe are friends, despite her super hot attraction towards him. They're polite and courteous. Then one night, they have a crazy, random, make out/grope session. Chris makes it clear that they've gone too far and can't do that again, but Blythe is amped the fuck up. She's so hot and ready for him and she's OBSESSED with him. All she can think about is Chris, Chris, Chris. For now, Chris is fairly absent and adrift. I keep hearing from Blythe that she's friends with Chris and he's so amazing, but Chris is never on the fucking page. Where is he? Who is he? What is his personality? I have no idea. The only thing I learned about him is that Chris never wants to get married. He doesn't believe in marriage, he thinks it's stupid, and he believes that if two people love each other they don't need a ceremony to prove it.

Fast forward a few weeks, which is actually like one chapter (that's the other thing, I expected each chapter to be a few days at most, but suddenly I'm being told that WEEKS/MONTHS have gone by.. wat) and Blythe jumps Chris in a hotel room. Chris goes:

I can't be your boyfriend Blythe. I'm not boyfriend material.

To which Blythe responds:

I never said I wanted you to be my boyfriend. NOW GET THAT COCK INSIDE OF ME!

Disclaimer: above two quotes have been paraphrased. Not exact quotes.

Cue 5 days of sex sex sex over Christmas break. And as she reaches her final orgasm, she comes to a realization: she's in love with Chris. Obviously it's not just because he made her climax for 5 days straight. There's true love there. Let's ignore the fact that they haven't said as much as 2 words to each other, because obviously that's not important.

I can feel my orgasm start, and the sensation is so intense that it's nearly enough to make me cry. I let it wash over me while I writhe against him like I'm never going to see him again.


And then I realize what has happened between us tonight.

We just fell in love.
—Pages 244-245

After their sexual escapade, in which Blythe transformed from a virgin to a sex addict willing to fuck a plant, Blythe and Chris return to university.. where Chris starts ignoring her. He pulls away and flat out doesn't exist for like 100 pages. Blythe tells herself she's okay with this because they never agreed to a relationship and she just treasures the moments they spent together naked.

A few months later, she learns that Chris has a girlfriend and has been dating her ever since they got back to university after Christmas. DRAAAAMA! At this point, I hated both characters. On the one hand, I'm mad at Blythe. She literally FLIPS A BITCH, as if she had some sort of claim to Chris even though they weren't dating. They're not a couple, and yet she's in a jealous rage. She's the one who said she didn't want him to be her boyfriend, so she has no right to flip the fuck out. But on the other hand... I also hate Chris. WHAT THE BLOODY FUCKS?? During their 5 days of hot and heavy sex, both characters were like "Omg our connection! Omg our love!! YES YES YES!" Chris was obviously into Blythe in a relationship way; and Blythe was obviously into Chris. So why the fuck does he go find another woman?? I'll tell you why. Because apparently Blythe is "too much" for Chris. She's too intense. She's too amazing. He loves her too much. So naturally, he must find another woman. (Yes, he actually said things like that.)

BUT WAIT! That's not all. Not only is he dating another woman, but he is now ENGAGED to her. That's right, engaged. So apparently he wasn't against the idea of marriage at all, despite his earlier claim. I guess he just didn't want marriage with Blythe.

Now keep in mind that Blythe and Chris have had nothing but sex at this point. They have had no real relationship, they have barely exchanged words other than like, "I'm here for you," "You're safe," "Get your cock inside of me." But despite this, Blythe is in love with him. So when she finds out about his engagement, she goes into a jealous, crying rage. She will never love again! She will never sleep with another man! She is doomed to be heartbroken forever and ever and ever because her one love escaped her!

Around graduation time, Blythe and Chris have one last teary goodbye in which they kiss (yes he technically cheated on his fiancée just then) and he admits to loving her so, so much. But don't worry, he's still going to marry his fiancée. (WTF?)

Fast forward one year.

Yes, the book did that, I am not shitting you.

One year later, Blythe is still in mourning over Chris, her long lost love. She hasn't dated another guy; she refuses to even look at other men. Because... Chris. Oh, Chris.

At this point I'm actually bored even writing this, so I'll speed things up. Chris came to his senses, didn't marry the mystery woman, got back together with Blythe and they had LOTS LOTS LOTS MORE SEX. Then they worked through some intense, deeply rooted issues.. and possibly happily ever after (with therapy).


Throughout my entire read of Left Drowning I could just feel myself not clicking with it. Blythe was in love with Chris before she'd barely spoken to him. And throughout the ENTIRE book they barely speak at all because Chris is "pulling away" for 90% of it (or engaged to another woman). The whole book just left me with a huge sense of "WHAT THE BLOODY FUCK??" Why does Blythe love Chris so much? I don't know. How is she still thinking about him after not seeing him for an entire year? I don't know. All they'd had was sex and she told him about how her parents died. That's it! There weren't long hours of conversation, there was no "falling in love" phase. It was literally 5 nights of sex and then her realizing that she loves him. Because of the sex? I don't know. The sex was the only time when Chris came alive. There he had personality. But outside of the sex? He was an empty shell that was barely even in the book!

And then there's the fact that Blythe never seemed "special" to me. She didn't have that much personality. And yes Chris and his family are OBSESSED with her. She's "amazing" and "the best thing that ever happened to [them]"! What? How? Why? She doesn't even talk that much!

Blythe herself just gets progressively annoying throughout the book. First, when Chris starts dating another woman, she goes into a jealous RAGE! But she and Chris were never dating.. she never had a 'claim' to him. He wasn't cheating on anyone, and yet she's PISSED! Because apparently she loves him soooo much!

Then there's the fact that she has a very "do as I say, not as I do" attitude. I'll let this quote speak for itself:

Seriously, my dear sister, what's with all the travel-size liquor bottles?"

"So what? I had an impulse purchase at the liquor store. You're driving, I thought I'd have a drink." I pour the mini gin into my half-empty bottle of lukewarm tonic water and take a straw from my purse. [..] "What I'm doing is illegal and stupid. So don't ever drink in a car."

"I don't plan to."

"And you shouldn't be driving with a passenger who is drinking."

"I know that!"
—Page 298

Blythe tells her brother to never drive with a passenger who is drinking, WHILE SHE'S POURING HERSELF A DRINK IN THE CAR! So basically, "Don't illegally drink in the car, or drive with people who are, except for this one time" ???

Then there was this whole thing about Blythe complaining that it was sooo embarrassing that she can't run a marathon! Poor Blythe.

"I can do a half marathon, but not a whole fucking one. [..] Don't tell anyone. It's embarrassing."
—Blythe, page 312

So to everyone out there who can't run a marathon (me!): you should be embarassed!!

Ugh.. just.. this book. The romance was honestly horrible. Because: there was no romance. It honestly didn't exist. I felt zero love between Chris and Blythe. Sure they had some sexual chemistry, but nothing they did built up to love. It all screamed "instant".

I wanted to DNF this book so badly, but I didn't, because I wanted to hold out for the "big twist" at the end. But, that was also a let down because I honestly guessed the entire twist ever since the first "flashback" thing at the beginning. It didn't come as a shock to me at all. So that was ruined.

If you can click with this book, and somehow not hate Chris for being an annoying douchebag, I think you might like this book. I feel like a lot of the pieces are there, it just didn't work for me at all. It's supposed to be emotional and intense, it is pretty hot, the sex is good... but god. Put it all together and none of it worked for me (except maybe the hot sex scenes). Honestly, there's still a lot I have to say about the book (especially with regards to the side characters), but I can't get past the big fat asshole that is Chris.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pavlina Read more sleep less blog  .
2,434 reviews4,571 followers
July 30, 2013
What a beautiful story!!
Left Drowning is an emotionally heart wrenching novel about the adverse effects of tragedy on the human spirit..
Reading about two broken people...is hard but I loved that!
It was so intense and beautifully written!


"I can't look at myself because I cannot stomach looking at a girl who has so little hope left,who is inexcusably weak.I'm humiliated by my own inability to do better."

The story starts with Blythe,who is at a point in her life where she is "left drowning".She isn't really living, she is surviving, but just barely...


She doesn't feel her emotions.She avoids them..It is too difficult to face her pain so she tries to ignore it..Unfortunately, she cannot truly move forward in her life. She's emotionally stunted and has no one that can pull her out...Blythe doesn't let anyone in and feels it is better that way...

"Even if I never speak to him again, I am grateful for this day, this one day when my misery lifted, even if just for a little while."

One day she meets Chris...
She sees him as he's skipping stones in a lake.She starting opens up to him like she's never opened up to anyone since both of her parents died not even her brother.Blythe cannot explain why it's so easy to let Chris in, but she does and he awakens her....


Chris has ended up at Matthew's quite by chance..He and his 3 siblings, Sabin,Estelle and Eric,are running..Running from their pasts...

Chris and Blythe both feel the pull,the need,the lust even love but neither understand it..All they know is the here and now and that now is perfect...

"Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris."

"I can't stop thinking about you and I don't know what to do about it."


"Left Drowning" sure is a story about love,betrayal,pain and loss but it's also a story which celebrates friendship which shows us that there's a fate for all of us and that someone's tragedy can become one's salvation...


Profile Image for Angela.
631 reviews1,328 followers
February 29, 2016
From the synopsis we hear that Blythe is struggling with her parents death and is trying to get back on track. When the book starts with her falling into her dorm room drunk I thought this novel was going to start out a little on the dark side. We have our lead being a hot mess, then something sweet would happen, and then after several shenanigans she would snap out of it... This is not the case for Left Drowning.

Blythe is a mess for all of, I don't know, two chapters. When she sobers up that quickly I oddly found myself being rather disappointed. I didn't get all the deep struggles I was hoping for. This made it a little difficult for me to connect with her on a personal level. Blythe is constantly describing herself as boring and generic and I think she might be right. Nothing about her was sparkling. She just wasn't the leading female I was wanting. Now on to Chris, clearly our love interest. At first I really liked him. I thought he was charming and seemed sweet enough. The fact that he is so involved family wise was a big plus for me. However, the further the story went the more I found myself slowly falling out of lust with him. By the middle of this book I was completely over him. Things with Chris and Blythe just started being goodish when Chris goes off and does one of my biggest bookish pet peeves ever! I'M TALKING ONE OF THE BIGGEST NOPES! This one thing is what completely broke any connection I might have had with the characters and their story. Almost anything else could have happened and I wouldn't have complained. I might have even kept the book at a higher rating. Seriously getting re-mad just thinking about it. For spoiler reasons I can't say what it is, but yall it's bad. I almost set the book down after it occurred. If it wasn't for the well written smutty scenes I probably would have. Complete deal breaker. Another character problem was I ended up finding myself more interested in the side characters then I was with Chris and Blythe. I love when I fall for a side character, but I don't like when I'm secretly wishing the book was about them instead.

In my opinion there are two major plot problems. First Left Drowning feels like something I've read oh so many times before. It's just nothing new. The entire story was just event after event of things I completely saw coming. Right when the flashbacks start happening I knew how this book would end. There's no way you'll miss it. Park does mix it up a tiny bit with some small shock, but it was still something I suspected might happen. The second biggest problem was how convenient things were. Blythe stays in a fancy hotel, is walking down the hall, and then bam Chris is there. So you're telling me not only did you both book the same hotel, but you're on the same freaking floor. Ha, nope. Then Chris's fathers profession isn't mentioned till towards the end of the book, but all of a sudden he has this never before mentioned or hinted at part time job. Again, no. These are only two examples of events thrown together to try and make things more dramatic. It ends up just making everything messy. The story went from somewhat strong to a completely cluster F.

I heard Left Drowning listed as one of the biggest NA tear jerkers out there... I have no clue how or why it is on that list. I didn't fall in love with Left Drowning's characters. I didn't fall in love with it's plot. And most importantly I didn't fall in love with it's love story. Something was just missing and I was expecting more.



Profile Image for Farah.
361 reviews502 followers
July 26, 2013

I loved this book!
This is so beautifully written...

Blythe.. A girl so alone, Drowning in depression. What is her life? Nothing...

"What I find interesting, at least from a human-interest standpoint, is that while I am painfully aware of my feelings and symptoms, I’m unable to shake them and move forward. I am stagnant, I guess. Which makes sense given that stagnant is sort of just a synonym for depressed ."

She's lost everything which mattered and its her fault? That's what she thinks.

Now 4 years later Blythe is still stuck in that rut she was in.
Until she meets a boy at a Lake...

Never did Blythe know that in those moments this boy was going to save her from drowning in herself.

"Feel me.” He inhales, and his chest presses into me. “Breathe,” he tells me. “Breathe with me.”

I loved Sabin, oh this boy is such a beautiful soul!!!!
And Estelle and every single one of this family.

"My secret wish to believe in fate, spirituality, or something so I don’t only have to exist with the cold certainty I feel that there is nothing bigger than random chance."

When Blythe starts hanging with Chris and their family, she begins to feel alive...
Life has meaning...

"Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris."

Chris! Oh I could have slapped him when he made his outrageous decision
My heart broke in a million pieces for her.

"You are the great love of my life that I’m never going to have.”

Random lyrics went through my head!!

Until its time to take the next step and fight for what she wanted!

"There is no set pattern to grief, despite what every stupid psych text has told me. There is no time frame that dictates when and how you’ll feel what you feel. You just get to deal with hell however, and whenever, it hits you"

This beautiful family, they all have their own pain and suffering and all deal with it in different ways...

Finally when all is well in the world and they see how entwined their lives actually were.
They survived, they breathed, they are no longer left drowning...

"Just breathe into it. Breathe into it and keep going."
Profile Image for Jennifer Kyle.
2,377 reviews4,625 followers
July 11, 2014


Jessica Park brilliantly wrote this novel and had me from the first couple of pages. I’m still wrapping my mind around the complete story, it was truly an experience. The writing was fantastic, the cast of characters were truly unique and the story… was so heartbreaking and uplifting that a full 5 Star rating and a standing ovation is warranted!

I don’t think I’ll give a full description in this review but I’ll say that Sabin, Eric, Estelle and Christopher Shepard were absolutely fantastic. They were loving, strong and broken. The strength and friendship that they gave Blythe to heal was incredible.

“I am hit with the enormity of the impact that this family is having in my life. They, and mostly Chris, are saving me. Or teaching me to save myself.”

The love and connection that Blythe and Christopher shared could be called many things. Perhaps fate, however you define Blythe and Christopher they were connected, they were in love and their sex scenes STEAMY and you’ll be invested in them as much as I was.

“He tastes like eternity, and healing, and completion.
No one else could ever kiss me like this, of that I am positive.
I could breathe him in forever.
I could fall in love forever.”

I have to warn a reader that I was pissed and I mean pissed about some actions on Christopher’s part. I mean probably as much or more than Blythe.

“You are the greatest love of my life that I’m never going to have.”

Blythe doesn’t crumble but stands strong through it all.

I would love for Jessica Park’s to give us a chapter in Christopher’s pov --- Pretty Please!!-- because even though his actions were explained I wanted more on the subject.

When it’s all said and done, I get the whys, the reveals and I absolutely loved how the group comes together again.

“I love you simply because I do. And that’s it.”

Truthfully, all roads and events tied Blythe to the Shepard clan. Through their saving and support she was able to be strong enough to save Christopher and in turn, complete a circle of support and healing for all characters.

Truly a magnificent weaved tale (although I guessed at some of their connection) the end result is nonetheless a true MASTERPIECE!!!

“What are you doing?"

"Loving you," he says simply. "If you'll let me."

"Always. God, always.”
Profile Image for Jess-i-ca ~Sometimes a Gif Witch~.
797 reviews747 followers
July 18, 2013
Wonderful! 5 Stars!!

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Ok so if you know me, you know I HATE running in books. It is played out and usually the same boring thing about how she loves running blah blah blah. The running actually worked well in this book and I loved how it was incorporated into the story!! So for this book:
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So this book starts with Blythe who is drunk and drowning in her sorrows. Her parents are dead and her brother hates her. She is falling and can't deal with life in general.

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She meets Sabin a spunky guy who becomes her new BFF. He's an oddball but it works for him. I love him! He's hilarious!

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She then meets Chris and has an instant connection to him. She doesn't know what it is that is so magnetic but she's drawn to him. He along with Sabin who she learns is his brother, and twins Estelle and Eric, all help her battle and overcome her demons as well as unearthing their demons along the way.

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So Blythe becomes close to this family and spends time with them all. Chris and Blythe fall for each other but Chris eventually pushes Blythe away even though they love each other.

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They are dysfunctional, loving, sad, trainwrecks, but also hilariously funny, and similar to everyday people. I think that helped me relate to them by knowing they are not perfect by any means.

"I pray that Neon Jesus will fly across the room and knock her unconscious."
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"How can I possibly say goodbye to the person I am so hopelessly, deeply, and permanently in love with?"

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"She is the past, present, and the future. She is through, and over, and under. He knows this is inexplicable nonsense, but he lets her presence comfort him."

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"I wish I could be somebody else but what's happened to me is inextricably part of who I am. Who I will always be. It made me the person who you think you love. And so you love me either because of that or in spite of that. Both of which are unbearable."

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Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,851 reviews847 followers
July 16, 2013

Left Drowning started off harmlessly enough and then ripped through ALL of my emotions, bringing me to soaring heights only to crash me down to earth shattering lows!! Jessica Park thankfully left me on a blissful high. Ms. Park, you have done a number on me, and I’m still recovering from the roller coaster ride my heart and mind rode!!

When we first meet Blythe, she’s not putting her best foot forward. She’s coming home, after some college party, in a drunken stupor and barely makes it into her dorm room. She’s been drifting along like this for much of her college years, numb to everything around her. Blythe hasn’t dealt with her past and so it still cripples her. But then a change starts to take place when she meets a brood of siblings, quirky, loud, and lovable, and she starts to slowly come out of her fog. There’s Estelle and Eric, the twins, and Sabin the outgoing, flirt, and then there’s Chris, the oldest sibling and thief of Blythe’s heart.

Chris feels safe and in control to Blythe and so she starts to reconcile her past a little more and more with his support. The brothers and sisters help as well, and Blythe the connection she makes with each of them heals her just a little more. With every passing day, though, Blythe is falling harder and harder for Chris, even with his warnings that she’s too good for him, she’s too much for him, and more than he can take.

On closer inspection it becomes apparent that the siblings are not the perfect fun loving group shown to the outside. Blythe knows a dark cloud hangs over them but doesn’t push. She knows the need for privacy and the desire to pretend everything is okay can be necessary to survive. She hopes that the connection she shares with Chris will turn into something more when they both can handle it. She’s willing to wait for it, it’s everything to her.

Like I said in the beginning, Jessica Park took me on one hell of a roller coaster ride. I was climbing up a slow hill creaking along, getting higher and higher, my heart and hopes in a crescendo at the top. Happy, happy, joy, joy, wonderful highs!! Delicious, steamy, OH-MY-STARS-STEAMY-SCENES!! Then without warning I’m crashing down the other side down, heart dumped somewhere at the bottom. I CRIED angry tears, sad tears, and I was generally sort of raging for a good 20% of this book! My poor husband. Even a couple of my friends were not spared and got some ranty texts from me. There may or may not have been cursing involved (there was, lots of words beginning with the letter F!!!). I didn’t know if I could forgive or forget. But then the miracle that is Jessica Park’s writing, she turned it all around. I got answers, and reasons, and I’m almost ashamed at how much I wanted to murder a certain character knowing what I now know. My heart breaks for everything that was endured and so I can forgive, and I understand. Plus, things were not all that they seemed….

I loved the final revelations, and how Ms. Park brilliantly put this whole story together. I figured out a few things in the beginning, but didn’t have the full scope until the end. I’m still so emotional and so affected from this read, my feelings are still very much at the surface, but I completely LOVED it!! I’ve been a big fan of Jessica Park since Flat-Out Love, and she did not disappoint with Left Drowning!

A copy was provided by Skyscape through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

You can read this review and more at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Anna.
483 reviews375 followers
July 26, 2013
5 together we kick heartbreak's ass ~ stars !!!


What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?

Blythe has mastered the art of melancholy. She has a deep sadness in her. She is drowning in her loss and grief. It has been 4 years since the tragedy and she is still lost.

Chris has scars of his past also and he is non-committal. But the heart wants what the heart wants....sometimes you don't stand a chance against FATE.

He is the past, the present, and the future.

I love how these two became friends and fell in love. The whole "family" aspect of this book made me a weepy weepy fool. There is nothing better than best of friends, becoming each other's rock and family, then finally falling head over heels in love!!! And this book was a slow burn. A beautiful slow burn....there was no fan-fair and confetti throwing here....they fell in love in a very quiet and complete manner. Although I was frustrated....I was so in love with this story.

Chris helps Blythe to FEEL again, to live, to love, to BREATHE. I loved Blythe's revelations :

I've read countless literary works that detail the longing and ache that characters have for someone they love, and over time, I have developed a strong belief that it's just dramatic bullshit meant to entice readers. Today, however, I understand that it's not bullshit. It's very strange the way my stomach and chest are tight and fluttery and how his presence is so entirely magnetic.~Blythe

"No one else could ever kiss me like this, of that I am positive. I could breathe him in forever. I could fall in love forever."

Chris has tapped into the small part of me that still seeks hope. And pleasure.

and then.....

This I didn't see coming....I guess because the book was going at the pace that I loved. Everything was happening in a gorgeous manner as planned. Swimmingly well....no one was drowning...but then...gaaahhhhhh


Fear not......because I am a HOPELESS romantic I hung on to every shred of hope against hope that these two would GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER AND GIVE ME MY HAPPILY EVER AFTER. The author was genius....seriously I was so invested in the characters. I loved them all!!! I laughed, and cried, and sobbed my damn heart out for 1 solid hour.....

He is telling me to protect my heart, but to LOVE. He is telling me about timing, and dreaming, and surviving. And mostly, he is telling me to abandon my worry. To find joy and to live again.

Love and.....

We can just be us. We can just be THIS

I am overwhelmingly in love with you. Last summer, you asked me to believe in us. I don't believe in much, as you know, but I do damn well believe in us. FOREVER.

The authors GORGEOUS dedication: *sniff

"This book is for everyone who has survived. You are not broken. You can love and be loved, despite what may feel like the eternally brutal nature of the world. Even when you're drowning and so far under, there is always time to reach for someone who will teach you how to breathe again."

My dedication:

Christy.....I love love love love you girl....never was I so rudely awakened at 3 am and immediately set myself up on a quest of such magnanimous heartache.....

I loved every moment... every damn beautiful moment !!!

Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!!! This book was amazing and now I understand why you had to shout it out like you were on top of the world !!!!
Profile Image for Korrie’s Korner.
1,065 reviews13.6k followers
July 20, 2022
This book was intense!!! The back and forth between the mains was almost exhausting in a delicious angsty way. There was some very hard subject matter involved with these characters which made my heart break even more. Published in 2012, this is the feeling I’m chasing right now. That fresh feeling of originality that the early indie days gave us. This story delivered!! What a wonderful read!
Profile Image for Amy | Foxy Blogs.
1,408 reviews970 followers
July 26, 2013

I have star confusion with this book. I loved the writing style but the story didn't do it for me. I'm trying to decide between 3 or 4 stars. I wanted to love this book. In fact in the Spring when I first heard about this book I had predicted this was going to be my EPIC summer read.


Everyone seems to love this book and finds it EPIC. Ms. Park has an amazing writing ability that I admire and by no means should you judge your decision to read this book off of my review.

115th book of 2013
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
422 reviews1,629 followers
January 4, 2019
1 Star

Really good sex ≠ a cure for mental illness

This book follows Blythe, who is still reeling from the loss of her parents. She spends her nights getting drunk and numbly moving through existence. In the first chapter she says:

“So continues my endless search for physical feeling, sensation. Anything.

She spends her days not wanting to get out of bed to so much as wash her hair, spending hours after hours mourning, and continuing to drink almost every night.

“Not that I would classify myself as depressed. Sure, I have numerous depressive symptoms, but I think that I have a good reason… I think back to my psych textbook and grimace as I think how clearly my symptoms match up to the clinical definition. Fine, fine. I’m depressed. There, I said it.

Depression is a real illness that impacts thousands of people each day. I’m not discounting these experiences or emotions. What I am discounting is the way the book chooses to address this. Blythe's only response is to go for a walk.

But of course on this walk she meets not one… but two interesting and mysterious men who are immediately entranced by her.

The first man bumps into her after grabbing coffee:
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I haven’t gone to bed yet? Given our close relationship, I’d think that my whereabouts would be an extremely pressing issue here. Your curiously should be driving you insane. Was Sabin at an all-night karaoke amusement park? Was he abducted by alien cowboy ghosts?

Nobody talks like this to people THEY JUST MET.

The second man is a chiseled Adonis who is skipping rocks down by the lack and she happens to swing by so of course he offers to show her how to skip rocks. And OF COURSE she’s suddenly really good at it. And turns to him:

For no discernible reason, it feels unfathomable not to tell him. “My parents are dead.”

Nobody talks like this to people THEY JUST MET.

Unloading your trauma on a stranger you find attractive is not an interesting meet-cute. Instead of recognizing that Blythe is really struggling and maybe helping her find some help, hot guy (Chris) is like “ya know what, I’m pretty angsty I can roll with this, lets get lunch.”

And during this lunch we learn both strangers are brothers! And naturally there’s a whole big family who loves Blythe and it’s insta friendship for everyone and they hang out all the time and braid each other’s hair.

And all this interaction includes Chris being insufferable and Blythe somehow thinking it’s sooooo charming.

“So, I guess that it’s fucking cream of turnip soup, cabbage, and soda bread for you two.”
“Seriously, Estelle, enough with the swearing. I can cuss up a storm, but you’re my little sister and I can’t take it.”

(Oh fuck the fuck off, Chris. Your sister is a fucking adult and can say whatever the fuck she wants.)

Chris and Blythe continue to bond over trauma and being edgy and say things like:

“There is no God. Not for us.

Blythe’s reaction to all of Chris’ angst and their burgeoning friendship is to make Chris her central deity and also masturbate a lot.

“…are punishment for masturbating. For masturbating a lot. I think that I may have an addiction. A sex maniac beast has awoke and I am a horny mess nearly all the time.”

“Every time that he laughs at a line from the play or mutters to himself—or for Christ’s sake, sniffs—I practically shudder with lust.”

“Chris and I are inextricably connected Do I have factual reasons to know this? Proof? Assurances? No. None.

"Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris.


A whole bunch of drama starts happening. Like they have sex and then Chris gets engaged to someone else and it was all very angsty for the sake of being angsty. But the worst part was Blythe acting like Chris and his amazing sex gave her a reason to live.

There’s a whole predictable twist about how their lives are interwoven and it’s fate and yadda yadda. But Blythe never works on herself or deals with anything. She just has a lot of sex and pining for Chris and decides that’s what living is.

Again, the day Blythe realizes she is clinically depressed is the day she meets Chris. She never undergoes any treatment nor does anyone reach out to help. The only thing that changes is she meets Christ. But from that day on she was magically ‘better’ (or as she puts it “happy again.")

In Conclusion:

Profile Image for ✝✝ Ⓓaisy ❣ ✝✝ .
493 reviews272 followers
August 7, 2013


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This book was simply deep, ugly crying, and breathtakingly emotional. I was a utter and total wreck. Bought all my emotions out for good and even horrible reasons. I was so pulled into this story emotionally and mentally it felt like my own heart was breaking, it was ripped out, stamped out, stabbed a few times and tossed in the trash.

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My first book of Jessica Park and it's blew me away!! This author is def one of my favourites.

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This book gave me everything from total elation to absolute heartbreak and everything in between. Left Drowning is a powerful story of how shattering events in the past connect with the present and the future. How it haunts and drowns itself .The key is not to forget, not to accept, not always to forgive in order to move on...but to breathe. To find strength in others and to build a foundation based on love and trust in order to survive.

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Thank you for a truly magnificent read!

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Well, on the other hand, Chris did everything to my heart starting from crying to make it go steamy!! Flipping fantastic HOT!

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My Chris and Blythe *winks*

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Lastly, it all started with stone skipping *love*

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July 30, 2013
4.5 ★'s

Blythe has never recovered from a traumatic event that killed her parents and permanently injured her brother four years ago. She carries all the guilt on her shoulders and she can barely keep her head above water. That is, until the day she meets two of the Shepherd brothers, each affecting her in ways she could never imagine, and allowing her to breathe once again.

To start off, I'd just like to say that I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book. First, the title is a bit daunting and even though, yes, the story is dark, the title is just a metaphor. Second, I've read the Flat-Out series and while good, I just wasn't sure I was interested in more of the same. Thankfully, this book is much, much better. While the Flat-Out series was more of the minor leagues, Jessica Park has seriously stepped up into the major leagues with this book. Yep, it's that good!

It was a bit crazy reading how damaged Blythe was and it takes a bit to get her full story. The interesting part is that we get all these clues and pieces of the puzzle as we go along. The fun part is trying to figure out how everything will fit together. And I love how Jessica Park did that!


It was a little disconcerting at how quickly and somewhat easily, Blythe came out of her "brokenness". That's not to say that she didn't struggle but she never had any setbacks and for the most part everything worked out. The only real problem was her dependence on Chris. She did talk a good talk though...and she almost made us...and herself believe all that stuff she was spewing. But who was she kidding? Still, it was fantastic seeing how everything developed and evolved.

Chris is an interesting character and probably even more broken than Blythe. You get that feel right from the beginning but his story takes even longer to get to. His feelings for Blythe seem true but then some drama happens...I would have loved his POV at that point.

The rest of the Shepherd clan are just as wonderful. Sabin was my favorite but you just knew what kind of trouble he was coming up against. I did love his relationship with "B". Estelle...again, you could see the trouble she was in but I loved her "sisterhood" with Blythe and how she was so giving. I will never forget "Neon Jesus". Eric seemed to be the one with his head screwed on right but there just couldn't be one to come out unfazed. I was happy with his relationship with Zach because it was nice having one normal person.

James is Blythe's brother and he has his own problems. His relationship with Blythe is not good in the beginning but as she gets better, so does things between them. It was wonderful seeing them work towards getting their relationship back to where it was and even better.

And I love Jonah!

Another problem was both these families have a ton of money...it makes things very convenient even if it is understandable as to why. It would have been more real - or relatable to have them not have things so easily.

And WOW was I surprised at the steamy scenes! I am very impressed with JP because as you know (or may not), there are no steamy scenes in Flat-Out Love. Now, Flat-Out Matt does have a bit but still I was not prepared. And I loved every minute...and I'm quite jealous! Yet again, it bothered me that it wasn't quite realistic. I know, I know...it's a fictional story but still.


The drama between Chris and Blythe totally took me by surprise! I did not see that coming and I was shocked at how long it lasted! WTH? But I also loved it because I eat up all that emotional drama! However, it was a bit of a letdown at how easily (again) it was resolved.

The last twenty percent is action packed and we finally get all our answers. I did love the way we were filled in with how everyone was doing as Blythe did her marathon. I loved how they were there for each other!

So, a few minor complaints but overall, I really enjoyed the story. The "connections" between Chris and Blythe were well thought out and I loved how JP put them all together. (The urchin = brilliant!)


Favorite quotes:

♥ "My shirt … found a new home.”

♦ "You are safe, sweet girl."

♥ “Being with you let me feel, feel everything, and I needed that. I remembered better with you, I healed better with you, and you made … you made everything real.”

♥ “You are the great love of my life that I’m never going to have.”

♥ “We’re like … puzzle pieces that fit together.”
Profile Image for Susan.
121 reviews
August 7, 2013
After this paragraph, this is a super-spoiling recap review. Sorry about that. I entirely agree with the New York Times critic A.O. Scott about genre stories and knowing the ending in advance. If a contemporary erotic late young adult novel is your type of book, you’ll like it no matter how much you hear from me ahead of reading it. As for me, the more frustrated I get while reading a book, the more I feel like telling you what crazy things happen in the story. Today I'm also in a life lesson mood.

Senior year of college is beginning, and Blythe realizes that she has been in a depressive and alcohol-fueled fog for the last four years, ever since her parents died in a house fire. Waking up one day, she decides to spend 24 hours without any booze, and within that time she independently meets Sabin, a junior who steals her coffee and decides in that second that they will be besties, and Chris, a senior who is built and can skip rocks. To make matters better, Sabin and Chris happen to be brothers, and their twin younger siblings go to the college too, and LOVE Blythe right away.

Romance book life lesson: when you think you are out of shape, wretched-looking and unused to social interaction, people will FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU. Also, when you make friends, make sure they come from the same family. Diversifying your friend group is needlessly complicated.

In Blythe’s relief about being sober, meeting friendly people, and having a sweet crying session that doesn’t weird anyone out, she starts to go running to deal with her flabby yet bony legs. (Life lesson: do not be content with being thin because EWWW celluloid.) Blythe has had no focus for however many years, but now she is ready to do a 45-minute run her first time out. As anyone who has ever exercised before may predict, she gets tired and does the normal thing of rushing to her brand new friend, Chris, to complain about her physical unfitness and her family problems. Chris can’t solve the aunt issue (although he is a great listener and affirmer of Blythe’s feelings), but he can make Blythe a new playlist. Blythe thanks him by pulling him close for a sweaty kiss. Chris eventually pries her off and Blythe is MORTIFIED.

Life lesson: Complain to new acquaintances about things. It’s a huge turn on.

Blythe avoids Chris for a little, even while she uses his playlist to get her through her full work-out. Things between the two get even more complicated when he shows up at her room one day to help her masturbate (Blythe’s second favorite thing to do after running). Meanwhile she continues to grow closer to Chris’s whole family. She even invites his little sister to move into her dorm room.

Life lesson: When you find the right guy, his whole family will adopt you as one of their own within weeks.

As Blythe and the Shepherd siblings celebrate Thanksgiving together, Blythe begins to see that the Shepherd family is kind of dysfunctional after Sabin drunkenly tries to ride a cafeteria tray off a third floor roof. In Sabin’s belligerency he makes fun of his sister’s religious beliefs and his brother’s unwillingness to hook up with Blythe within a month of meeting her, and then Sabin thrusts his tongue down Blythe’s throat. Blythe forgives him because he’s so drunk he’s just not himself. The boy Shepherd twin and his boyfriend dampen Chris’s mattress while they’re waiting to see if Sabin falls off the roof.

Life lesson: Belligerent drunks shouldn’t be held to high standards. And don’t trust people not to mess up your mattress in a life-or-death situation when you’d expect them to be too worried to be hooking up.

By Christmas, Blythe is doing great and starting to reconcile with her little brother (who has never followed the above life lesson, and has been pretty upset with Blythe for drunk dialing him at all hours). She and Chris manage to spend forty pages a week in bed together with no expectation of commitment. Blythe and Chris both realize they’re in love with each other, but that is too serious for Chris, who not only bails but gets engaged to the next girl he sees.

Life lesson: Guys don’t buy the cow if they can get the milk for free? Don’t date severely emotionally damaged guys.

There is more than another third of the book after this point, and I will stop plot summarizing so as to avoid any more major spoilers.

You may have guessed already that I was not swept away by this read. I had no wish to hang out with the Shepherd siblings (who sound horrible, taunting her for loving their brother, assaulting her drunk, and involving her in awkward sibling fights), and I stopped caring about Chris and Blythe in bed after her first orgasm (which doesn't even physically involve him). Credit to the author for making Blythe find herself before she settles down in a romance, and credit to her for mentioning a condom every few pages and sending characters with issues to therapy. Even with those credits, though, this left me dissatisfied and filling out a pretty harsh Romance Rubric.

Originally posted at Read This / Eat That
Profile Image for Tessa Teevan.
Author 44 books1,609 followers
March 13, 2014
When we first meet Blythe McGuire, she's not living, she's barely existing at a small college in Wisconsin. Still grieving over the loss of her parents in a tragic fire four years ago, she shuts everyone out, spending her time going to class and drinking her nights away. She has an estranged relationship with her brother as she believes he blames her for the loss of their parents, so she is, on all accounts, alone.

Enter the Shepherd family. Y'all, if there's ever a fictional family that I want to be a part of, it's the Shepherds. The first Shepherd Blythe meets is Sabin, the flamboyant theatre major who helps draw Blythe out of her shell. In the same day, she meets his sexy older brother, Chris, and they fall into an easy friendship that soon turns to more.

Blythe and Chris are both jaded due to circumstances of their past. As Blythe begins to fall for Chris, it's evident that he feels the same, but it continuously resistant to pursue anything further than a friendship. He's so hot and cold that it's exhausting wondering which Chris is going to show up.

Can Blythe and Chris get over their tragic pasts in order to have a beautiful future, or has too much damage been done for them to overcome it in the name of love?
Five stars are not enough for this book!
I finished Left Drowning three days ago and I am still literally at a loss as to what to say about this book. No words that I can type could ever give this book the justice that it deserves. This book resonated so deeply within my soul that I will never forget a single moment of it, and I don't want to. Jessica Park did an amazing job in bringing every emotion I could ever possibly feel to the surface. She took my heart, ripped it out of my chest, stomped on it, stabbed it, and tore it apart. When I didn't think it was possible, she repaired my heart in the most beautiful fashion and I finished this book with the cheesiest, largest grin that could ever grace my face, while crying tears of joy at the same time. Seriously. This. Book. Is. Incredible.

Blythe and Chris have undeniable chemistry that sizzles through the pages. The way that they are immediately drawn to each other is beautiful, as is the progression of their relationship. They truly are each other's saving graces. They're like puzzle pieces; they're meant solely for each other to create the perfect fit. I can't begin to form the words to express how much I love the relationship of Blythe and Chris.

At one point Chris utterly and totally destroys me and I was left wondering...


Blythe's strength as she continued to heal was extremely admirable. She's now at the top of my list of favorite female heroines. I felt everything she did. I felt her pain, her sorrow, and her angst. I also felt her falling in love, her pain healing, and the familial love she felt for Sabin, Estella, Eric, and James. She may have been a zombie for the past four years, but with a little bit of help, she rejoined the land of the living, and I loved going on this journey with her.

I also need to give a special shout out to Sabin. He was probably the best secondary character that I've ever encountered in the literary world. He was just as important of a puzzle piece in putting Blythe back together again. He was the instigator, the push, the spark that she needed to begin living her life again. He was her person. And it was undeniably beautiful.

I read Left Drowning on my birthday, and I'm pretty sure I freaked my husband out. If there's ever a book to make you ugly cry, this one is it! After crying on the couch for over an hour, I made my husband go to the store and buy me a bottle of wine because my heart seriously needed some liquid courage to continue this story. Jessica Park's writing style is so effortless, and she writes in such a way that the characters pop off of the page and instantly grasp onto your heart. I connected with this book in a way that I haven't experienced in a very long time.

Don't let me scare you with my talks of all the crying and emotional wreck that I was while reading this book. This payoff is more than worth it in the end. If you take only one recommendation from me for the rest of my blogging life, Left Drowning needs to be your choice. I'll even mail you a gift package of Kleenex tissues and chocolate to help you cope. I'd send wine, but I'm not really good at sharing that. I'll even send a few free hugs your way. You're going to need them.


Amazing, heartbreaking, devastating, tear-inducing, beautiful story.


Profile Image for Umz.
65 reviews
March 30, 2020
5 stars for an unbelievably beautiful story!

This was my first Jessica Park book and I cannot believe how much I loved it! This story was so much more than just a book; It was a heart breaking journey of family, love, guilt, healing.

Meet Blythe McGuire. 4 years ago, she experiences a tragedy that took away her loved ones, and since then she's been just a shell of the person she once was. She hasn't been living her life, she's just been surviving through it.

She pushes away everyone and lives a lonely life, relying on alcohol and pointless parties to get her through the guilt she carries with her. One day she meets Christopher Shepard, and some how they just connect. They make each other feel again, in all the best and worst ways.

Something strong draws them together that neither of them can place, but neither is ready for a relationship. They can't deny the bond they share as they grow closer and closer together. Along with Chris, Blythe befriends Sabin, his younger brother. Before she knows it, she finds herself a part of the Shepard clan and after so long of being alone, Blythe has found a place she belongs.

Now, I have never liked the idea of insta-love in books. It just feels unrealistic to me. I wouldn't say Chris and Blythe had insta-love or insta-lust, it was more like... Insta-emotional-connetion. Sounds a little weird, right? I was more than a little skeptical at first, but the way their relationship progressed and you saw the way they grew to love each other was so captivating and emotional. It was realistic. You could feel their bond, their chemistry.

Although they connected so fast, their relationship was still slow burn and riveting. Chris, oh Chris. He made me swoon, cry, he broke my heart and destroyed me. I wanted to shake him at times, but nothing the characters did was out of reason.

For so long, just like Blythe, Chris has lived in the darkness of his past, but unlike Blythe, he pretends. Strong, protective, he never puts down the mask. He fights for those he cares about -his siblings. But for the first time, he is forced to feel again. Blythe makes him feel everything he's spent so long shutting down, and it scares him shitless. He pushes her away, but eventually they find their way back and overcome their demons together. As the pieces of their tragic past begin to unravel, my heart broke for them in every way.

The characters were incredible! I loved loved loved Estella, Eric, Zach, Sabin, James. Each and every one of the characters, no matter how small the role, was written with so much dept that I felt so connected and invested in each one of their stories. All of them had their own demons they struggled with, and my heart broke for each and every one.

Just hearing the plot may sound likes its done so many times before –the girl with PTSD meets the boy who changes her life. But it's not. The way it was written so eloquently and beautifully, with so much emotion puts this book in a shelf of and in itself. I can't think of one book that could be compared to this one because it was such a special story.

And, I was pleasantly surprised by the steam in this book! It was HOT! Holy crap, does Jessica Park know how to write a sex scene or what!

I wish there were words express how much I adored this book. This was my first Jessica Park book and I am so excited to read more from her! This book was entertaining, emotional and I had tears all the way through but I loved every page. Left Drowning has found a permanent place on my favorite shelf and I look forward to reading it again and again!

“We’ll make it to that finish line, won’t we, Blythe?”

Profile Image for Jacqueline's Reads.
2,770 reviews1,471 followers
July 18, 2013
For more reviews, visit - > Jacqueline's Reads

4.5 fully submerged Stars!

Left Drowning not only has a beautiful, title and cover, but an emotionally gripping story of intense love.

Left Drowning is nothing like Jessica Park’s last book I’ve read Flat-out Love and it just amazes me! Sure, the title Left Drowning is a little depressing, but I seriously thought I was going into something light and fluffy and boy was I in for a shock! BUT A GOOD SHOCK Oh Left Drowning is very steamy … yeah I know you wanted to know that too.


I got to put the disclaimer because I really need to stress that Left Drowning isn’t anything like Flat-Out Love. Left Drowning is ten times more emotional and basically you are in for a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows. If you like this kind of read (which I do!) then proceed.


Blythe is entering her senior year in college and first off, we notice something is seriously making Blythe unhappy and upset, we just don’t know why. One day she meets Chris at a secluded river and instantly forms a connection with him. Both Blythe and Chris have past issues and as they try to overcome disturbing histories, it either strengthens their relationship or pushes them apart.


The beginning is a bit descriptive and usually this irritates me because I do not like descriptive writing, I know, to-each-their-own, BUT this time, it worked for me. Why? Well, it’s all about character build-up. I really got to know Blythe in the first few chapters. I got into the raw and gritty side of her and it was very refreshing. I also liked her sense of humor.

No one else could ever kiss me like this, of that I am positive. I could breathe him in forever. I could fall in love forever.


Oh lord, what can I say about Chris? I am up and down with him. Sometimes I want to punch him in the face and sometimes I want to rip his clothes off and lick his abs. Chris is what I call a flawed Hero. He isn’t perfect, but somehow he balances Blythe. And when Chris said … I just fainted. Major SWOON right?!


I want to point out a few things that are worth mentioning.

♥ I was grabbed right from the beginning!

♥ Chris and Blythe’s emotional past issues were not only shocking, but very moving.

Left Drowning was one ball of emotional tension!

♥ Favorite scene… the shower scene!

A few single words that just gutted me … yeah it’s kind of like that.

I have to talk about the shower scene and no, I am not giving anything away people. It’s not a sex scene or anything like that. It’s just a moving and pivotal point in the read and it bumped up my rating. There are a few times when I read a powerful scene, I actually stop and think about it, this was one of them. WOW, is all I can say to that.

I LOVED the title reference. If you have read my past reviews, then you know that is the NUMBER ONE thing I look for in a read. I try to figure out why the author picked the title (if it’s not an obvious one) and Jessica Park … damn girl, you know how to write. When I got to the title reference I was like, OH.MY.GOD… LOVE!

Okay okay, so why didn’t I give this a 5 star rating? I usually don’t like to point out the negatives when I give a 4+ star review and I don’t really think this is a negative, I think it’s a personal preference, BUT I don’t want people to read my review and have certain expectations and then hate me, so I decided with my 4.5 star rating because I felt like Chris was just a bit too flawed for me. I know, I’m a dreamer and as much as I love flawed characters, I felt like Chris was too much one way.

However, I can’t stress enough the intensity of Left Drowning I know there are many readers that love damaged characters, tension filled romances and shocking situations, so if you are one of them, then I definitely recommend Left Drowning. If not for that, then because Jessica Park is one bad-a$$ writer and I wish her and I are best-friends.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review via Netgally

For more reviews, visit - > Jacqueline's Reads
Profile Image for Rose.
1,872 reviews1,055 followers
May 22, 2013
Initial reaction: This book had a lot of caveats to it with respect to elements that I think could've been presented better and fleshed out. I really didn't like the heroine much - whereas the surrounding cast of characters were a little more tolerable, and the fact that the ending came full circle bumped this up to a higher rating than I was initially going to give it.

This is probably going to be a solid 2.5 to 3 stars, depending on how I sort through how to explain what this novel did well and what it didn't.

Full review:

For a book I requested on accidental terms, I did not expect to be somewhat taken by Jessica Park's "Left Drowning." In the scheme of New Adult reads I've picked up as of late, this knocked many of its peer reads in the group in terms of plausible character development, conflict, real world tangibility, and connectivity.

But I could argue it had several caveats that I outright didn't like, and I would say don't completely shed the coat of stereotyping that typifies this age group. There is some (male) slut shaming, the heroine is pretty unlikable in spurts (including one measure where she jokes about "sexually assaulting/molesting" her lover), and there are times when I'd like to say that the college environment could've been more vivid, but as far as the conflict and character dynamic were concerned - this was much more plausible than some of the other reads I've had thus far.

I would give a warning about the strong sexual content that's in this book, and note it could easily fit under adult contemporary erotic romance. It personally didn't bother me (perhaps with exception for the repetitiveness and long, drawn out nature of such scenes - I've read better in the scheme of some writers), but I get that this is a read for anyone 18+. It is clearly NOT for children/YA.

To take a brief tangent, I think one of the other reasons I liked this story so much is because it reminds me of a Sundance film I saw many years ago (whose name eludes me now). It was one of the titles I picked up back when I used to rent movies from Blockbuster (yes, it was a while ago) and the movie was under the heading Youth Restricted Viewing, or YRV. It was my freshman year of college when I watched it. The storyline revolved around a bunch of college friends who fell in and out of love in their relationships and dealt with a lot of tough subjects (including parental deaths, personal tragedies, growing pains) for the friends they highlighted, a group of three. It had strong sexual content, but none of it felt exploitative or for the sake of providing a conflict vehicle - it was just showing their lives and the conflict was contained in real world context with respect to things that directly impacted the relationships and personal lives of the characters in the story. It never felt that the conflict was thrown in willy-nilly.

"Left Drowning" is evocative of that, telling the story of college senior Blythe McGuire. She's six months away from graduation, living her life in a fog of sorts. She starts off the novel drunk, depressed, and pretty much stuck in a rut, which I'll admit made me worry about where the story would go. Her parents are dead, her brother hates her for a tragedy that remains unspoken of until a good way into the novel (and by that time, I understood where her grief originated). She then meets rather odd personalities - first Sabin (whose over the top personality may make or break some readers) then Christopher (Chris). Chris actually has a nice introduction scene where he engages in a skipping stone lesson with Blythe, though there are some awkward moments of drama I felt that did eventually smooth themselves for the better in terms of the character development.

I am happy to say that this book had absolutely no male characters (with the exception of an obvious antagonist) that were abusive jerks and glorified for the sake of that abuse. I was starting to think that every NA book I picked up would have a protagonist that I would either not care enough about to follow in the story or that I would absolutely loathe to the point of oblivion. The characters in this actually felt...normal. Flawed yes, problematic at times, yes, but ultimately - they were normal people dealing with some tough situations. Blythe actually comes to terms with meeting Chris and Sabin's family (they're brothers), and ultimately the story is kind of a coming to terms for Blythe in that she learns what it means to come outside of her grief and remember the things that hurt her.

What kept this from being a higher rated read for me personally were some measures that I couldn't really look over as the story transpired. I felt that the narrative was a slow burner - sometimes it worked, sometimes it was a little dull and overly introspective. I also think the two shifts in POV (from predominantly first perspective to third) were awkward and may have been better if it had kept to one POV throughout the narrative. I've read some stories that toggled between the POV in a great way (see my thoughts on Sophie Hannah's "Little Face"), but this actually threw me out of the story when they came up and I didn't - at first - know what they were leading up to. I also wasn't really fond of the long passages of religious bargaining, though I understood where it was coming from and why - I just thought it took me out of the novel for frequency.

I thought the vast majority of the characters in this novel were worth following, though Blythe got on my nerves more often than not. I had a hard time with her in turns of the story - though I think in the moments of her grief and coming to terms with certain things - I realized why she acted that way and could sympathize for the magnitude of the reveals. The dramatic elements were punctuated well in certain turns of the story (especially with respect to personal grief). I really wasn't expecting to be blindsided by a twist with respect to the relationships that came within 5% of the novel's end. I have to admit that was well done and I didn't see it coming.

On the other hand, there were dramatic points that really weren't followed that well, including a point where Blythe suddenly forgives Chris of a pretty darned major transgression. Could I see that happening in real life? Sure. Do I think the coming to terms would be that quick? Absolutely not. Some of the interactions between characters - both intimate and casual interactions - were fluffy, but I actually handled that better than some of the awkward turns where the emotional recuperation time just didn't mesh.

I'll admit the sex scenes and self pleasure scenes made this book longer than it should've been. I'm not knocking them for inclusion because they didn't feel exploitative and out of context with the novel, but I'm pretty sure that there was a good 10% of this novel that had nothing but one sex scene after the other. In some of the better erotic romance novels I've read, these are balanced with more anticipation, but in this some of them were repetitive and likely because they were in too close proximity.

In the end, I think if I took this novel for what it had to offer, it was fine, and I was appreciative of the experience when it was all said and done. It's one of the better examples of developed storylines I've seen in NA. I would classify this more as adult contemporary erotic romance more, but I think I see the NA classification because it does invoke a college environment, it does invoke a proper coming to terms for the age range it's depicting, and it does carry its respective themes with some weight and maturity compared to the vast majority of stories I've perused here. It was worth the time and I think some might end up liking this more than I did.

Overall score: 2.5/5

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Amazon.
Profile Image for Whitney.
328 reviews110 followers
October 8, 2019
5+ Stars!

"This book is for everyone who has survived. You are not broken. You can love and be loved, despite what may feel like the eternally brutal nature of the world. Even when you're drowning and so far under, there is always time to reach for someone who will teach you how to breathe again." -Jessica Park

Park has the ability to create perfectly imperfect characters. They will tug on your heart strings and drown you with their sorrows. She gives true meaning to beautifully broken. This is an epic story about tragic loss, unrequited love, and beginning anew.

There is no set pattern to grief, despite what every stupid psych text has told me. There is no time frame that dictates when and how you'll feel what you feel. You just get to deal with hell however, and whenever, it hits you.

When we first meet Blythe, she is stumbling into her dormroom drunk. The reader finds out quickly that Blythe is a troubled girl with skeltons in her closet. She makes a call to her estranged brother, James, then she starts making vows to improve herself and her life. A decision that leads her to one of the members of the Shepard clan - Sabin. Over-the-top and flamboyant, Sabin declares that he and Blythe are new friends. She doesn't really know what to make of their encounter, but it inspires her to do something unexpected and take a walk by the lake.

I am hit with the enormity of the impact that this family is having in my life. They, and mostly Chris, are saving me. Or teaching me to save myself.

Immediately, she spots a gorgeous guy skipping rocks. She feels an instant attraction towards him and it surprises her. She has been numb for so long that feelings were a new sensation. Without realizing it, she approached him. He introduces himself as Chris Shepherd and offers to teach her how to skip rocks. They hit it off straightaway and Blythe reveals something she never done; she tells him that her parents are dead. Chris helps her through her confession and reveals that he lost his mother. He also tells her about Sabin and how he has two other siblings - twins, Estelle and Eric. They end up spending the majority of the day together which leaves Blythe fantasizing about being with Chris.

It's a constant struggle to stay near the surface. I have just enough air to stop me from totally going under, but not enough to thrive.

Months go by and Blythe is becoming a person again. The Shepherds are having a positive impact on her mental and physical health. However, while she is slowly healing, the Shepherds are falling apart. It becomes apparent that they have their own issues - Sabin's drinking, Estelle's repenting, Eric's quirks, and Chris's scars. Blythe finds herself trying to save the siblings and capture Chris's heart while keeping her head above water. She's drowning in her emotions.

Some people believe in God; I believe in Chris.

No matter how many moments Blythe and Chris share, he will not allow himself to give into their love. He doesn't believe in fate. He doesn't believe in marriage, kids, or houses with picket fences. Blythe doesn't either, but she believes in Chris. It pains her to have him push her away. However, it shatters her heart when he stops believing in them altogether.

You are the great love of my life that I'm never going to have.

Now Blythe is trying to nurse a broken heart, bandage her relationship with her brother, and maintain a relationship with the Shepherds. She, once again, feels like she's drowning. She doesn't know if she will pull through it all. But she knows she is strong enough to try.

Just breathe.

I read this story a few years back, but it still was as hauntingly beautiful as it was on my first read-through. Blythe is a character that I can never forget - along with Sabin, Eric, Zach, James, and Chris. The book is full of emotion and angst - especially the last 30% or so. Be prepared to be frustratingly upset, y'all! Park has such a way with words; they will immerse you into the story to where you feel as if you were drowning just like Blythe. I can honestly say that this book has snagged a spot on my top five books of all time. And I am an avid reader, so that shouldn't be taken lightly. I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of books. Bravo, Jessica Park! 5+++ stars!
Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,440 followers
July 16, 2013

Damn, this book had my emotions all over the place. Jessica Park can tell a story....in a way that sucks you in. You become invested in all of the characters. You feel what they feel--you experience their pain and suffering and sadness...and their happiness and love.

Chris and Blythe. Two people Left Drowning in their own pain. Two people forever connected yet leading separate lives. A chance encounter that unknowingly saves them both. A tragedy that brings them together and threatens to tear them apart.

"Christopher Shepherd, the boy who has changed all the rules."

There really are no words to express the true greatness of this story. Jessica Park has away of emersing you so deeply in the characters and the story. I loved every single one of them. Sweet, sweet Sabin. Everyone needs a Sabin in their life. His character was absolutely one of my favorites.

Blythe has been existing in life after the tragic death of her parents. One day she decides that things are going to be different. A coffee run brings Sabin in to her life and later a trip to the lake on campus brings his brother Chris. That day Blythe's life is forever changed.

"Being with you let me feel, feel everything, and I needed that. I remembered better with you, I healed better with you, and you made....you made everything real."

Chris (and his family) slowly bring Blythe out of the darkness. Pulling her head above water....so that she's no longer left drowning in the pain. But Chris carries his own pain. A pain so much stronger with Blythe in his life. He feels so much with Blythe. Neither one understand the connection that they share and how entwined their lives really are.

"She is the past and the present and the future. She is through, and over, and under."

"I'm ready for this now. Are you?"
"To move ahead with you? Yes." He swipes his tongue over my mouth
and whispers in my ear. "To take you to bed forever? Yes. To
make you come in my mouth, to feel you writhe under me while I
slide my cock inside you? Yes. To listen to you scream and beg
me to stop because I can't get enough of you? Absolutely. Am I
ready to focus on giving you levels of pleasure that you've never
even dreamed about? Yeah. I'm ready."

Chris and Blythe must both confront their pasts if they can ever hope to have a future. When all of the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted you learn just how deep the connection between Chris and Blythe runs.

"Together we kick heartbreak's ass."

Together Chris and Blythe are so much more. Together they can finally breathe. Together they can live and love. Together they can survive. Together they are no longer left drowning.

Brilliant...just brilliant!

Profile Image for Catarina.
896 reviews1,965 followers
July 24, 2013
4.5 Sea urchins stars!

I was a fan of Jessica Park since I’ve read “Flat-Out Love” and I started this book knowing that I would probably like it. But this was a surprise. It was a completely different story than what I was expecting and I didn’t liked it… I pretty much loved it! ;)


Blythe is broken by her parent’s death. She only has her brother left but their relationship is strained. She bears fears, guilt and sadness that no one understands. She is lonely because she can’t even be herself long enough to make friends.
She feels like she’s drowning in her own dark past.


On the day she meets Chris she slowly starts to breathe again. Their relation helps her feeling alive again. She almost dares being happy again.
But as she starts to surface, she realizes that Chris is the one drowning this time.
And he is so broken that he may never surface again.


But she knows she won’t give up on him. Like he helped get her head above water, she will do the same for him.
Or drown with him, trying.


Besides the romance one of the things I loved more about this book was Chris brothers. They are all broken but they are tight and support the others no matter what. And the way they welcomed Blythe like she was their own sister was adorable to see.

Basically a brilliant story, with a perfect writing style and perfectly imperfect characters.
If you like books with romance, angst and some steam… you really need to read this book. :)
May 10, 2015
3.5 Stars

I love Jessica Park; I really do. That's why I wanted to read this when it released. However, this wasn't one of those couldn't-put-it-down type book like Flat-Out Love was. It took awhile for the story to get going. I wanted to stop on numerous occasions, but my curiosity got the best of me and so I kept going. I had a feeling the Hero and heroine were connected somehow. As the story unfolded, I formed some of my own theories and in all actually, when everything was all said and done, my theory wasn't too far off.

The story itself was good, for the most part. It kinda had that Colleen-Hoover-Hopeless-vibe to it. Something was connecting the two characters. Both had traumatic pasts and that are now affecting the present. They're both damaged, and when they meet at Matthews College, they instantly connected.

I guess I'm in the minority when I say that I didn't connect with these characters. Blythe to me just seem so indifferent, especially when it came to Chris. Yes, she loved him. Yes, she didn't want anyone else, but throughout the story, she didn't seem to fight for what she wanted. They had this truce that they weren't going to be anything but friends, even though it was obvious that the two were crazy for each other, and I didn't understand their blasé attitude about their relationship, or lack thereof. It just felt off for me; I don't know. I was rooting for these two from the very beginning and just when I thought they were going to be together....they ended not to be. It took a long time for that to happen, too, and for them to just go back to before, really frustrated me. Oh! And when Chris broke her heart after what they went through?! OMG, I was LIVID. Like I said, I just didn't get their relationship.

Anyway, I'm sure a lot of you will LOVE this story, but it wasn't meant to be for me. I liked it, but I didn't outright love it. I hope you guys have better luck with this than I had.
Profile Image for Sarah.
346 reviews131 followers
July 31, 2013

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What happens when a broken girl meets a broken boy?.......

......What's happens when piecing the fragments of your past together means you inadvertently break apart someone else's?.......

..and what happens when you are drowning but the person trying to save you is drowning to?.....

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A mind blowing five star read. A tender, erotic, heart breaking love story about fate, hope, friendship and forgiveness. A story about accepting our pasts and moving forward, about letting people in and opening ourselves up to the possibilities of love, a story about facing our greatest demons and allowing ourselves to be saved.

A beautifully written book that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. A book I would highly recommend.

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*thanks Lili for the recommendation.....loves ya x
Profile Image for AJ.
2,868 reviews931 followers
July 27, 2014

There are so many books out there with the ‘broken souls coming together’ premise, but there are only a few of those books that made me feel as much as this one did! Just… wow!

When we first meet Blythe she is a complete mess. Drinking heavily and a virtual recluse, she cannot cope with the loss of her parents four years ago, and the trauma that she endured as a part of that. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure I was going to like her at the very beginning of this book, but that all changed very quickly when the Shepherds came along. Flamboyant Sabin is the first to make contact, instantly claiming a place in Blythe’s life, followed shortly by his big brother, Chris.

Blythe and Chris’s first encounter is INTENSE! Weirdly intense for a first meeting? Perhaps. But there is no denying that there is something very special happening between these two, and I was soon swept up in the moment.

“Your parents died. Your whole world fell apart.”
I nod.
He puts his hand on my cheek. “You were left drowning.”
I nod again.
“And you’re struggling to breathe.”
I am. It’s a constant struggle to stay near the surface. I have just enough air to stop me from totally going under, but not enough to thrive.
“So do it. Breathe. Just breathe.”

Chris is like a touchstone for Blythe. He calms her, allows her to be herself, helps her to deal with her past and move on. The friendship and connection between them is evident, and as Blythe spends time with Chris and his family, she starts to climb back from despair and come alive again, and the new Blythe is all kinds of awesome! Strong, honest, and with a huge heart, I absolutely love her.

“Being with you let me feel, feel everything, and I needed that. I remembered better with you, I healed better with you, and you made … you made everything real.”

The romance is slow to develop, but it starts off with a ‘bang’ *wink*. . Holy freaking hotness! The scenes between Blythe and Chris (and his dirty mouth) had me fanning myself. I certainly wasn’t expecting anything that explicit or intense. But more than just the actual smut, there is so much feeling behind it, and I was left shaking my head in awe at everything that they experienced together, and how Park was able to put that on paper.

But this is just the beginning of the emotional ride that is this book, as things spiral out of control in a way that I was NOT expecting. I had so many ‘WTF is happening???’ moments, and was left angry, frustrated, and absolutely gutted, wanting to hurl my kindle at the wall. Seriously, the emotion throughout this part of the book was incredible! I felt everything, and was left a blubbering mess! But in the middle of it all is one moment of absolute pure perfection. Blythe shows just how far she has come in reclaiming herself, and her life, and lets it all out in one EPIC scene! *sob* My heart broke, but I was so effing proud of her!

There is SO much more to the story after all of the drama unfolds, with lots of twists and turns, big revelations and huge character development. I’m not going to say much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was riveted through every single moment. I laughed, cried, swooned, and was left shocked by the full extent of it all.

While the emotion is a big part of the book, the thing that Jessica Park does so well is relationships. OMG, this woman can write relationships! Not just romantic relationships, but the everyday interactions between characters. I adored it in Flat-Out Love, and she did it again with this one. The dialogue and dynamics between her characters is absolute GOLD!

And she has given us the Shepherds *sigh*. If there were ever a fictional family that I want to have in my life – these guys are it! Chris, Sabin, Estelle and Eric are a very close knit, caring, supportive and hilarious bunch, and absolutely lit up the pages of this book! Their acceptance of Blythe (and Zach and James) into their fold is beautiful, and I adored every moment with them! In fact, the book ended and I just wanted more!

The bonds between the characters are absolutely phenomenal! Blythe’s relationship with Chris is definitely the focus, but all of the characters play a huge part in the story. Her relationship with her brother, James, plays a big part, and I love how her friendship with each of the other characters is individually explored in some way. Her bond with Sabin, in particular, is gorgeous! I love that she and Sabin had a special relationship. As best friends, they were 100% there for each other and Chris respected that, never trying to intrude, and never being jealous of the connection between them.

“I am hit with the enormity of the impact that this family is having in my life. They, and mostly Chris, are saving me. Or teaching me to save myself.”

The one, minor criticism I have in this book is that there is possibly an overload of drama. There is SO much going on, and with all of the horrible backstories, and manifestations of the trauma in the present day, I wondered what else could possibly go wrong, and just wanted to scream out ‘enough already’, wave a magic wand, and make it all go away. But it’s all a part of the story that brings everybody together, and the issues are dealt with, and realistically resolved by the end of the book. There are a few twists in the story, and even though I picked the big ones, it didn’t ruin the ending for me in any way as I was so invested in the story, I couldn’t wait to see how it was all going to play out.

I love this book. It is absolutely beautifully written. And although it broke my heart, and I was an emotional mess through a lot of it, there are enough brilliantly funny moments (including a phenomenal drunken outburst!), and sensational dialogue to keep it light. The ending was beautiful, and left me with a massive grin on my face. Bravo, Jessica Park!

5 stars.
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