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Mary Underwater

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  204 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Mary Murphy feels like she’s drowning. Her violent father is home from prison, and the social worker is suspicious of her new bruises. An aunt she’s never met keeps calling. And if she can’t get a good grade on her science project, she’ll fail her favorite class.

But Mary doesn’t want to be a victim anymore. She has a plan: build a real submarine, like the model she’s been
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Amulet (first published 2020)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  204 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Jeff Bishop
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
600 years ago, Joan of Arc got a raw deal. The legendary Roman Catholic saint was burned at the stake, a dire demise for a lady later canonized by the church. Absolutely nothing could remedy this grave injustice.

But Mary Underwater comes damn close.

This tale of a girl and her submarine goes deeper than any submersible ever could. This is the second book of Doleski's I've read, and she once again demonstrates a sense of economy when it comes to world building. She drops you in the Chesapeake Ba
Raquel Gilliland
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
MARY UNDERWATER is a book that will steal you away into its gorgeous, sea-foamed setting as well as the brutal and beautiful life of Mary, our sweet and brave protagonist.

What I love most about Mary is her bravery and strength exist alongside qualities that are quiet, shy, even bashful at times. In a world where strength is measured by volume and aggression, I found it unbelievably refreshing to be reminded that sensitivity, too, is a superpower.

Mary’s touchstone throughout the book is the sto
Liz Lawson
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the IMMENSE pleasure of reading Shannon's debut MG novel early, and man you guys are in for a treat in 2020. This book hits that sweet spot that people have been talking about recently - it's upper MG (could potentially be thought of as lower YA, too). The voice of Mary Murphy is spot on perfect, and she's such a lovely head to be in over the course of the book. She's smart, determined, and learns her own strength over the course of the novel. And, it has STEM themes (she's trying to build ...more
Shannon Doleski
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
It's my book!!! ...more
Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

Mary has a violent father, her mother doesn’t do anything to make her feel safe, and is a victim as well, but, when her father is back in the house from his prison sentence, Mary knows things should change.

She’s let her grades slip, fear has cultivated inside her and Doleski captures all this perfectly in such a poignant manner.

The best part of this is that Mary throws herself into a project, and, it’s a completely STEM book. Mary loves science and after a
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ahhh! I'm experiencing a serious book hangover. I was extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to read this before it hits the shelves in 2020. Doleski does an exceptional job straddling that gray area between upper-MG and lower-YA. The story was a perfect equation of swoony romance + whip-smart humor + baddass STEM-ness + unexpected adventure + Catholic school girl guilt + complicated family dynamics. I highly recommend this un-put-down-able book to both MG and lower-YA readers as wel ...more
Jen Malone
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite kind of middle grade- a perfect mix of lightness and depth (pun entirely intended). I'm so excited I got to read an early copy :) ...more
Prerna Pickett
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read this heartwarming debut by Shannon and it did not disappoint. Mary Underwater is a story about a girl who decides to do the unexpected, build a submarine. With the help of her crush, Kip (a boy that will have you grinning with his hilarious quips), and a submarine scientist, Mary sets off on her adventure.

Mary perfectly captures the emotions of a young teen girl navigating unfamiliar waters, from the glimmer of first love all the way to evolving friendships. Despite t
Jenny Moke
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had a chance to read this book pre-publication and I am so excited for readers to discover this amazing story! The prose is absolutely beautiful, lean and atmospheric and crusted in salt from the Bay. I loved Mary Murphy - I loved her determination, her fears, her passions, her unique viewpoint, and every time she didn't get a joke and got mad about it. I loved Kip, too, as the perfect foil to Mary's serious determination, the light-hearted, supportive love interest that saw in Mary what she c ...more
Cody Roecker
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pitch perfect, simultaneously sorrowful and hilarious Shannon Doleski's debut is essential reading. Mary Murphy's story is an unforgettable triumph. Utilizing Joan of Arc to showcase Mary's bravery Doleski deftly allows a glimpse into a world of a girl who just wants to feel loved and the lengths she will travel to have that acceptance. This book had me laughing and crying at the turn of a page - and is just so freaking special. ...more
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Wow. Wow. I've never read a book by Shannon Doleski before but I'm definitely open to picking up more from her.

Doleski does not manage to shy away from themes of domestic violence and all of the fall out that results from it. Not only does eighth grader Mary Murphy live her life in perpetual fear of her father but the cycle of abuse is further perpetuated by a mother that makes excuses for her father and blames everyone else for his choices. In addition, Mary's home life has affected her s
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

Mary Murphy’s fears of her abusive father, recently home from jail, cause her grades to drop. When she’s paired with Kip, an annoying classmate, for a STEM science project they decide to mark a submarine, which Mary decides she’ll use to escape her father.

MARY UNDERWATER is the story of an eighth grader who turns fourteen during the book, but her idea of building a submarine to run away isn’t something a young teenager would believe was a feasible plan, so older MG readers might not buy
Arianne Costner
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this one. You know how people are always saying we need more books in that space between MG and YA? This is it! The romance in this one was SO sweet, and I was rooting so hard for Mary and Kip (he is my fav.) I read this one fast and was on the edge of my seat to see if/how she would be able to succeed with the submersible. Really enjoyed--kids really need more stories like this. Mary was very determined and brave. Oh, and the Joan of Arc info scattered in was BRILLIANT. Love the tone it ...more
Loriel Ryon
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read Mary Underwater sometime last year and I cannot believe I haven't written a review for this yet! This story is an excellent Upper Middle Grade story that sensitively explores themes of domestic violence, coming of age, first crushes and believing in oneself. This story has one of my all time favorite middle grade love interests in Kip, who is just written so wonderfully and brought to life in this story. His sense of humor is contagious and he is the perfect juxtaposition to Mary who is a ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

This book and Mary have stolen my heart!
Mary is like so many children in society who hasn't got it easy. Mary is scared of change and what it might mean but learns that change can be a good thing.
Mary meets Kip who is such a fun loveable character, and they team up to make a real life sub after a STEM project.
The seaside setting is so encapturing to the imagination.
Kids will adore
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
It started out great! Kip is so much fun, and I love that Mary goes to a Christian school. We need more Christians in literature! The plot went a little sour for me, though. Some of Mary's actions didn't match up with her personality, the dad was stereotypical, and the mom was flat. Also, candles (even special ones) don't give off oxygen. Fire always takes away oxygen. Period. ...more
Olivia Hinebaugh
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has it all! Mary is courageous and smart. Her growth through the story will definitely help readers who are charting their own courses through rough waters. Plus the relationships she builds throughout the story are The Actual Best. I'm looking at you Kip. ...more
Feb 24, 2020 added it
Shelves: read-in-2020
A powerful, original story featuring a strong and memorable main character, fascinating STEM content, and THE BEST, most adorable banter I’ve ever read in an upper middle grade book. Love the way this story balances heavy content with hope and humor.
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was nothing like I expected but it was a good surprise which I really enjoyed. Wonderful and also shocking in places but I think it was well-done. Made me tear up a few times.
Reika Haskell
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Abusive Dad + Kip Dwyer + Murphy's Law = Mary Murphy! Mary Murphy is a courageous young lady and I hope to be like her when I grow up! Really enjoyed this book and can't wait for another book from Shannon Doleski! ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Mary lives on the coast of the Chesapeake Bay with her mother and her abusive father who is frequently in jail for various assault charges. She goes to a local Catholic school where the nuns are very concerned about her, and she does have a social worker assigned to her, but her mother always feels that the abuse is her own fault. When her aunt Betty moves into town, Mary's life improves a bit, although her father won't have anything to do with Betty and her wife. At t
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The writing is pristine, bright, and age-appropriate. The story has the perfect balance of emotional weight, gripping plot, and the sweetest middle grade romance I've ever read. I love the role of Joan of Arc as an inspirational figure for Mary in this story. The heavy elements of the plot were moving, and handled sensitively and responsibly. Highly recommended! ...more
Shanna Beasley
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about Mary Underwater. This book strikes a delicate balance between delightful and heartbreaking. It’s empowering, entertaining, and captivating from page one. I loved the Joan of Arc chapters and loved how Mary found strength and inspiration in both history and science. Highly recommend!
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must-read, impossible-to-forget story with a courageous lead character and a memorable supporting cast. Hands down one of the best middle grade novels of the year.
Betty Boop
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
As someone who writes about and personally experienced child abuse, I was excited to read Mary Underwater. I also read the reviews in advance of reading the book. All I can say is that those individuals who gave this book 5 stars must have read a different book than I did.

My first criticism is about the way the author portrays the abuse Mary experiences. Abuse is often -- usually -- a layered experience. Most abusers don’t go to jail. Most abused children don’t really know that what they are ex
Kate Waggoner
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-read
I had the immense pleasure of reading an digital advance copy of Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski thanks to #NetGalley, Amulet Books, and Abram Kids. This book will be released on April 7, 2020. All opinions are my own.

Mary feels like she is trapped and drowning. Her abusive father has been released from jail and is now living at home with them again. Her social worker reappears and is suspicious of her new bruises. Her aunt, who she hasn't seen in years, also returns to town and begins calli
Feb 27, 2021 rated it liked it
i love middle grade books but i've made a point so far to only read lesbian ones. i should have kept to it.

i liked how the abuse itself was written, present but off page for most of it. i absolutely hated, thought it was dangerous, even, how it was dealt with. MC finally tells a social worker but then goes alone to confront her father? and before that, another adult provokes him when the MC still lives with him? and MC somehow gets over her "my father my fault" on her own? the neglect and child
Apr 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Mary is trying not to drown under the weight of it all. Mary's abusive father is back home from prison, Mary's grades at her Catholic school are slipping as she fights back the fear of her father, and Mary is avoiding her best friend whose family turned her father. When she learns about a science project that might help her save her grade, she discovers a passion for building a submarine and is partnered with Kip, the class clown who might just have a crush on her. This project and the arrival o ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic middle grade book that captures the imagination and tackles big issues. This beautifully written book will transport you right to the little seaside town where big things are happening to young Mary. The story melds, teen friendships, STEM, family dynamics and even a little romance, into a truly heartwarming tale of a young woman finding herself and striking out to make her place in the world.

I really enjoyed how this book tackled complicated family issues, especially the issue of Ma
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Shannon Doleski was born and raised in Cazenovia, New York. After graduating from Niagara University with a degree in English Education, Shannon was a high school and middle school teacher and swim coach in New York and Maryland. She lives in West Texas with her three children, a speckle-eared beagle, and an ornery dachshund.

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