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The Summer She Was Under Water

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  24 reviews
It has been twenty years since Sam Pinski, a young novelist, has spent the Fourth of July weekend with her family at their cabin on the Susquehanna River. There, she must confront a chaotic history of mental illness, alcoholism, and physical violence and struggle to find perspective in the pulse of things familiar and respite from the shame of the taboo relationship that c ...more
Paperback, 193 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Queens Ferry Press
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Average rating 4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  61 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Jen Michalski
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I'm probably biased. ;)
Melanie Page
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here are some observations from my review:

“I thought I knew exactly what happened in the past based on contextual clues, but I was wrong. It’s much more complicated.”

“Michalski easily works in fluidity: lesbian, bi, straight, male, female, both.”

“The Summer She Was Under Water is an emotional giant.”

Review now at Grab the Lapels!
Michael B Tager
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review forthcoming from The Collagist.
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I found this novel to be moving and deftly crafted. The family gathering at the center of it threatens to be uncomfortable at best, explosive at worst. But because Michalski gets to the heart of the characters and their conflicts with such care and feeling, she offers more than a strife-laden drama. Instead, her novel is a complex exploration of family dysfunction. It is also beautifully structured. The way it moves back and forth in time echoes the main character's struggle to make sense of her ...more
Meg Tuite
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of Michalski's work. This story is visceral, heartbreaking and moves like someone swimming with the tide. LOVED IT! Get a copy!
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘Sam is amazed that [her father’s] thick, calloused hands are capable of such gentleness.’

Baltimore, Maryland Author Jen Michalski won the coveted Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The prize won her the publication by Black Lawrence Press for her extraordinary novel THE TIDE KING. This novel and her others - CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, FROM HERE, a collection of novellas, COULD YOU BE WITH HER NOW and her editing of
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Contains spoilers – sorry.

Jen Michalski never shies away from difficult and sometimes downright subjects in her fiction. May-December lesbian relationships, child molestation (both novellas in “Could You Be With Her Now”) or people who never die (“The Tide King”). Most of the action centers around Baltimore, but when she thinks no one is watching, she’ll sneak in heartfelt stories about the Eastern Shore, like “The Substitute,” (in her collection “From Here”) or the last third of “The Tide King.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-library
TW: substance abuse, suicidal ideation, domestic violence, sexual assault
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately this book was just "ok" for me. I read it in one day, but it was a slow go for being only 193 pages. I felt like the editor stopped editing after page 100. Words that were incorrect, wrong names. I've never seen anything like that before. It wasn't that many, but I noticed and it bothered me. Also, the tragedy came a lot later than I thought it would. Almost felt weird where it happened. Maybe for the best and it's just me. Anyway, not very excited about this book.
Melissa Eisenmeier
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Weird, but good.
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review to come
Elite Group
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Family secrets implode

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The Pinski family spends the summers at their lakeside cabin and Sam invites a girlfriend along. Unbeknownst to her, her mother has also invited her ex-finance Michael. This serves as a catalyst to uncover some long-buried family secrets.

The theme of incest is always a difficult subject to broach and yet Jen Michalski has managed to write a beautiful, lyrical story about an awful taboo. Sam, her brother and mother have also been victi
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book doesn't let anything be easy but the read. Seriously. The prose is strong and elegant, knowing exactly where it's going but not needing to force anything or try to impress. The current is dangerous though, a steady pull with an intense amount of force. This one leaves quite an impression.
Rachel Mariman
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books
An intimate look at the complexity of family, forgiveness, trauma, and how we make peace with those who hurt us when they are also the ones closest to us. Michalski's characters are beautifully human; there are no simple heroes or villains here. A truly enriching read.
Nathan Leslie
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great characterization, dialogue and crystal clear writing!
Xian Xian
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Received from a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a review

I read this book forever ago and I have it packed away so I can’t even pull out quotes like most book reviewers do. This is another book post that was supposed to be done a year ago, so it’s unprepared and bare bones like the rest I’ve written.

A Brief Plot Discussion

The Summer She Was Under Water is centered around Sam Pinski, a bisexual, depressed, alcoholic writer who is visiting her dysfunctional family for the first time in years. Th
Michelle Brafman
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading The Summer She Was Under Water, and I will be thinking about Michalski's brutal yet big hearted novel for weeks to come, I'm sure. She's a fearless writer, and her humanity and incredible grace allows her to tackle the most difficult subject matter. You'll want to keep reading to discover every detail, secret, regret, and longing of the flawed Pinski family. This taut narrative is also a treatise on forgiveness, and I'm so glad I read it.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
"The Summer She Was Under Water" follows Sam as she returns with her family to their summer cabin- plus her friend Eve and her ex-fiance Michael (whom her mother invited). It is written in the third person, but almost would have been better in the first, as we really delve into Sam's mind to explore her familial connections and their pasts. Interspersed between chapters of the present and Sam's memories of the past are sections from Sam's book about a pregnant man.

It's an intriguing book and a r
Vanessa Hairfield
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Summer She Was Under Water (by Jen Michalski) is a beautifully written family drama. At the center of the story is Sam Pinski and her blue collar Baltimorean family, who are all reuniting at their cabin on Conowingo Lake for a 4th of July weekend. Sam is a writer and uses her words to try and exorcise her family demons. There is a story in a story element as we read snippets from Sam's latest book about a pregnant man, Pete Skivins. The story within the novel is as engaging as the novel itse ...more
Sandra Lambert
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jen Michalski's layered story of a woman trying to grow up and both out of and towards her family is written with nuance and power. Especially compelling was the at first hidden tension that steadily asserted itself from within the messy swirls of family dynamics like a noose being tightened. Both in this novel and in Michalski's previous novel, The Tide King, she creates unique, flawed, compelling, and tender characters.
Lou Gaglia
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just finished this excellent book. I "dove" into it, and felt I was in the moment at all times. Nothing distracted me. The characters are well-drawn, the prose is beautiful, and the story is gripping. A great job by a very fine writer!
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just a masterful book. The characters are exceptionally realized, and the family drama is unique and gripping. Michalski provides a portrait of a person, a family, and a region that will always be relevant. A book that deserves a wide audience, and demands to be re-read.
Sep 10, 2016 marked it as dnf
Recommended to TL by: Goodreads giveaway
received this from goodreads firstreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review

Print is too small for my eyes and is giving me a headache so putting it aside for now:(
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is beautifully written, risky, uncomfortable, and devastating. Michalski characters feel so real, so flawed, and their situations common.
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Jan 03, 2017
Jen Grow
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Jan 13, 2017
Tyler Mendelsohn
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Aug 18, 2016
Shome Dasgupta
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Jun 10, 2018
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Apr 09, 2018
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Jen Michalski is the author of three novels, The Summer She Was Under Water (Black Lawrence Press, 2017) The Tide King (Black Lawrence Press 2013), and You'll Be Fine (NineStar Press, forthcoming), a couplet of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc Books 2013), and three collections of fiction (The Company of Strangers, forthcoming; From Here, 2014; and Close Encounters, 2007). Her work has a ...more

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