Girl Underwater

320p. Dutton. 2015. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9780525954934; ebk. ISBN 9780698186194.
Avery is the youngest in a family of athletes from Boston. She's a sophomore at Stanford when the plane she's taking home from school crashes in the Rocky Mountains. She is one of the only survivors, along with Colin (a teammate) and three young boys. They spend five days huddled in the wilderness, facing severe cold, snow storms, and a bear attack. Both Avery and Colin are uniquely qualified to survive—Avery's father is an ER doctor who taught her the basics, even taking her along to the ER on Saturdays to work by his side as she was growing up. Colin has a preternatural calm and optimism, as well as strength and a way with kids. But something happens on the fifth day that makes Avery so ashamed she cannot visit the boys or Colin after their rescue. She even lies to the media. Kells's choice to alternate chapters between the event and its aftermath effectively ramps up the suspense concerning the details of the tragedy and Avery's subsequent struggle with PTSD. Avery is a strong, if flawed, character, and teens will love her deeply emotional, at times angsty, story. There is a strong bond between Colin and Avery that brings a will-they or won't-they element to their relationship. Colin is a truly good person, and readers looking for a humble hero will swoon.
VERDICT With the pacing of a thriller and the heart of a romance, the novel steers readers through one young woman's survival of a devastating tragedy.

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