Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: This Is the Water by Yannick Murphy

From Goodreads:
In a quiet New England community members of the swim team and their dedicated parents are preparing for a home meet. The most that Annie, a swim-mom of two girls, has to worry about is whether or not she fed her daughters enough carbs the night before; why her husband, Thomas, hasn't kissed her in ages; and why she can't get over the loss of her brother who shot himself a few years ago. But Annie's world is about to change. From the bleachers, looking down at the swimmers, a dark haired man watches a girl. No one notices him. Annie is busy getting to know Paul, who flirts with Annie despite the fact that he's married to her friend Chris, and despite Annie's greying hair and crow's feet. Chris is busy trying to discover whether or not Paul is really having an affair, and the swimmers are trying to shave milliseconds off their race times by squeezing themselves into skin-tight bathing suits and visualizing themselves winning their races.

But when a girl on the team is murdered at a nearby highway rest stop-the same rest stop where Paul made a gruesome discovery years ago-the parents suddenly find themselves adrift. Paul turns to Annie for comfort. Annie finds herself falling in love. Chris becomes obsessed with unmasking the killer.

With a serial killer now too close for comfort, Annie and her fellow swim-parents must make choices about where their loyalties lie. As a series of startling events unfold, Annie discovers what it means to follow your intuition, even if love, as well as lives, could be lost.
I've read a lot of reviews that mention how off-puting the style of the book is.  It's written in second person and many of the sentences start with the line "This is the...".  It took me a couple chapters to get past it, but once I settled into a rhythm, the style didn't bother me at all.  While it didn't bother me, I did wonder if it was really necessary beyond just being a writing device.  It's something new, but I didn't get a sense of it serving a purpose.

Entertainment Value
It was fine.  Not exceptionally intriguing, other than the interest inspired by the style.  I've seen it referred to as thrilling and fast-paced and it wasn't really either of those things.  The identity of the killer is revealed at the beginning and most of the "thrilling" aspects, regarding the killings, take place off the page.  The majority of the book, particularly what the reader actual sees, is character development.  It was much more about suburban ennui than it was about a thrilling mystery.  That said, I still enjoyed the story, especially all of the swim team moments.  If you've swam on a team before, you'll appreciate the way it's portrayed.  I was less into the characters, didn't really find any of them particularly likable, but also not fun to dislike.  I just didn't care all that much about them.

It was a decent diversionary book, but it's not going to make it onto any list of recommendations or must-reads on my part.  It's just ok.  If I hadn't read it, I wouldn't have been missing anything, but it wasn't bad enough that I wish I had my time back.  If you're into the swim team thing, give it a read, I guess.  But don't knock yourself out trying to get your hands on a copy.


  1. Hmmm. Despite the lukewarm review, I must say I'm intrigued. Suburban ennui has a draw for me...unique writing devices have a draw for me...together, I'm interested. But I am going to keep your reservations in mind!

    1. If you read it, let me know what you think!