Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Publication Date: October 29, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness
My dad looks up at me, “I’ll catch you.”
I know he probably won’t, but that doesn’t scare me, not today. What scares me is knowing that this day—this perfect day—one of the few my family ever has will end soon, and it will be back to yelling and screaming and being slapped for saying the wrong thing even when I don’t know what is wrong.
I turn to Dee and ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I don’t ever want to grow up,” she says.
And I realize I don’t want to either. I back away from the cliff.
Dee says, “Finally. Don’t kill yourself.”
“I don’t want to grow up either.”
I run to the edge of the cliff, but this time I don’t jump feet first. I dive. I think as I sail through the air and hit the water that it’s the perfect day to die.
My dad jerks me out of the water. “What the hell are you doing? You could have killed yourself.”
I just look at him and say, “I didn’t.” Then, I swim toward the beach.
Dee yells, “Holy shit, brother! Way to go.”
I found this to be a very impactful read. Most worlds I jump into don’t touch on mental illness or mental health that often. While it might be touched on in passing, the books I pick up rarely focus on these issues. Drowning does not go this route. Instead, this book deals heavily with mental illness straight from the get go.
It deals with heavy topics such as bipolar disorder and suicide. It throws you into the minds of people who are not completely mentally healthy. This book throws a darker shade on the world than most books (I read) do, and it does so in an impactful way.
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In this book, Cross found a delightful balance between perspectives, having the reader live primarily in Dean’s head but also spending some time in Dee’s mind as well. This gives the book a good contrast in perspectives. Everyone views any given interaction differently and Cross has given the reader a way through which to experience these different viewpoints. The reader is able to understand why a character might have acted a certain way, even if their actions might have been counteractive to their actual intentions.
This book also gives an insight into a broken family. Sometimes this insight is glaringly obvious, like the dead father, whereas other times it’s in a more abstract way. No family is perfect, but getting an insight into this one has shown me how truly lucky I am to have gotten the family that I did.
While I recommend giving this book a try, as I really did enjoy it, I give this recommendation with a little bit of a warning. Mental health is a very tricky thing to read about to some. If you’re not able to jump into the mind of someone who’s not completely healthy and has suicidal thoughts, I’d stay away from this read if I were you.
However, if you’re able to handle reading these darker thoughts, I really do recommend giving this book a try. If you’re able to handle this read, I truly believe that you’ll be able to take something meaningful from it. Maybe you’ll be able to understand someone you know that has mental illness better or maybe you’ll start to understand yourself a little bit better. Either way, this book has an impact.
About the Author
Steven Cross remembers his first literary success, a play about a wolfman that his English class read. His first publication was a Haiku about hearing wolves at sunset one evening as he sat on his back deck with Luke his faithful mutt by his side. He also published a horror story about mutant moles whose taste buds begin to crave human flesh.
Cross, born in Missouri, has published plays, novels, and poetry and done well in some screenwriting competitions, most recently as a quarterfinalist in The Bluecat Screenwriting competition, considered one of the best in the country.
Cross often writes about mental illness. He is an example of how a person can overcome mental illness and succeed. His young adult book Drowning covers bullying and mental illness and is a must-read for teenagers, parents, and teachers.
An educator for over 30 years, he is now semi-retired. Right now he and his wife Jean live in Poplar Bluff, MO, where they spend a lot of time spoiling their grandchildren. Cross is a St. Louis Cardinals fan and has been ever since he was old enough to hold a baseball card. He also enjoys music, reading, and of course writing.
Steven M. Cross: http://stevecrosswords.wordpress.com