In the Shallows

Macmillan/Godwin. May 2024. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250865595.
Gr 9 Up–Mara Malakar lives in Brighton and loves Nico Rudolph, even though she’s unreliable, volatile, and all of Mara’s friends hate her. Despite being stood up again and again, Mara remains hopeful when Nico asks to meet her on New Year’s Eve. Then the pain of a curt break-up text after midnight is followed by shock as Nico’s face appears on the news the next morning: “teenage girl rescued from the sea.” This novel explores trauma-induced amnesia, as Mara and Nico are reunited, and Nico remembers nothing about their previous relationship. Mara takes the opportunity, at the urging of Nico’s mother, to start over. During the course of this meandering, moody novel, Mara rebuilds their relationship on top of a tremendous lie, while trying to uncover the sinister truth of what happened that night at Brighton Pier.
VERDICT Slow pacing and repetitious dialogue mar this book’s journey to its unexpected ending, but for readers who enjoy character-focused psychological dramas akin to E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Karen M. McManus’s One of Us Is Lying, this is a solid, sapphic, addition to the genre.

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