ARC Review: The Sound of Drowning by Katherine Fleet

Title: The Sound of Drowning
Author: Katherine Fleet
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 384 Pages
Published April 2019

Summary: Meredith Hall has a secret. Every night she takes the ferry to meet Ben, her best friend and first love. Though their relationship must remain a secret, they’ve been given a second chance, and Mer's determined to make it work. She lost Ben once before and discovered the awful reality: she doesn't know how to be happy without him…Until Wyatt washes ashore―a brash new guy with a Texas twang and a personality bigger than his home state. He makes her feel reckless, excited, and alive in ways that cut through her perpetual gloom. The deeper they delve into each other’s pasts, the more Wyatt’s charms become impossible to ignore. But a storm is brewing in the Outer Banks. When it hits, Mer finds her heart tearing in half and her carefully constructed reality slipping back into the surf. As she discovers that even the most deeply buried secrets have a way of surfacing, she’ll have to learn that nothing is forever―especially second chances.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an early review, which I was disappointed not to get a chance to read until I came home for the summer, since things were really chaotic at school. However, in May, I finally got a chance to sit down and read this book while I was recovering from dental surgery, and I'm really glad that I did, because I got sucked into the story and really enjoyed every minute of it. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Mer is secretly taking the ferry every night over to a neighboring island to see her boyfriend, Ben. They used to be together out in the open, but then something really bad happened, and they know their families wouldn't approve if they remained together. But then she meets Wyatt, a handsome, flirty, confident boy that is making her feel in ways that she doesn't usually experience with Ben. But Ben is supposed to be her forever...but how can they make their relationship work if it always has to be done in secret? It's a lot for Mer to figure out and unpack, among the constant stirring up of her feelings.

I really enjoyed reading this book. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about Mer because she seemed really combative and very closed off, even to the reader, and a lot of secrets are teased that you don't get the full story about until later on, so it was a bit frustrating in the beginning because so much was being alluded to that I had no idea about yet. However, that quickly started to change, and I found myself being more and more sucked into Mer's story, always wanting to read the next chapter to find out what else was going to happen. I'm a sucker for stories set in sleepy beach towns, and this one was the perfect fit, especially since I was reading it during a series of rainy, cold, gray days that matched the weather in the book perfectly.

My favorite character in this story was definitely Wyatt. Even though he was really cocky and overconfident sometimes, he was really charming, and I found myself swooning over him pretty easily, just like Mer did. He was always there for her and her companion through things, even when she was really closed off and still didn't want to talk to him about a lot of stuff. He just seemed really loyal and sweet, and he was even battling some demons of his own, but he still managed to be there for her in the process, which made him grow on me pretty quickly!

(MAJOR spoilers in this paragraph, so please skip to the next paragraph to avoid them!) Okay, I need to talk about that plot twist for a second, because it completely caught me by surprise, but in the best kind of way. The way where I'm so shocked and think that it came out of nowhere, but then I look back and realize that the clues were planted there all along, without me realizing. I thought it was a bit suspicious when the book hinted so much about Mer's fear of the ocean but then once the abortion secret comes to light, that had nothing to do with the sea, so I had a nagging suspicion that there was another secret that we weren't being told yet. However, never in a million years did I expect it to be the fact that Ben had died, Mer was seeing his ghost, AND the fact that almost the entirety of the book didn't actually take place at all -- wow. I mean, I haven't been this genuinely shocked by a plot twist in the longest time, but it's safe to say that Katherine Fleet really got me good with this one. Excellent, excellent writing. I loved that part.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Sound of Drowning. This emotional, gripping book took me on an adventure that both squeezed and also healed my heart, and the journey it took me on was one that I really appreciate. If you're looking for a book to settle in with during a rainy weekend and you'd like a few shocking surprises along the way, then I'd definitely recommend this one!

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