Starting “The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water” by Erin Bartels at the end of one year and finishing it on the first of a new year felt poetic. In the novel, the main character Kendra Brennan is trying to move beyond her childhood trauma in order to write her second book. Some of her childhood trauma was the catalyst for her debut novel, which was successful but also prompted a mysterious note from a Very Disappointed Reader.
While inching closer to her upcoming deadline, Kendra learned there were secrets from her past that complicated what she thought to be true and who sent that mysterious note. This first-person novel switched to a second-person voice when Kendra addressed her childhood best friend, who was a main character in the story but never actually appeared in the current day plot. I don’t know that I’d ever read a book with that alternating voice, but it worked well and allowed the reader to understand Kendra’s friendship with the estranged Cami and gave insight to Kendra’s thoughts.
The summer lake setting worked well for this story of Kendra unraveling the past so she could move forward with her life. The supporting characters had depth that helped move this well-written story along and straight into the depths of many human emotions. Plus I’m always rooting for love — both the friendship kind and the romantic kind.
This novel is emotional and suspenseful — and I really enjoyed it. I’m always glad to see a new-to-me author has other books and I’m looking forward to reading more from Bartels.
“The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water” is about how secrets shape us and unravel us, how forgiveness is a process, and how love is possible even among the pain. This is an example of how the best stories, even the fictional ones, are built on truth and love.
This 352-page paperback is published by Revell (Jan. 4, 2022).
About the author
Erin Bartels is the award-winning author of “All That We Carried,” 2020 Christy finalist “The Words between Us,” and “We Hope for Better Things,” a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, 2020 WFWA Star Award-winner, and 2019 Christy finalist. A publishing professional for nearly twenty years, she lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son. Find her online at www.erinbartels.com.
I received a free, advanced paperback copy of this book from Revell in exchange for a review. These opinions are my own.