Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick
Sixteen-year-old Jenna has just been released from a psychiatric ward into the custody of her “psych dad” as she calls her father and her alcoholic mother. It’s probably a good thing when they neglect her since at least then she has some peace and quiet. Her father is a surgeon who’s having an affair with one of his nurses, and bursts into abusive temper fits with little or no provocation. Her mother runs a failing small town bookstore and hides her misery in a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka. Is it any wonder that Jenna was hospitalized for cutting herself while her older brother Matt joined the military and got sent to the Middle East? In addition to all this, much of Jenna’s body is covered with scarring from a fire at her grandfather’s house from which she was rescued by Matt.
But now her protector is gone overseas and her dad has relocated her to a new school for a “fresh start.” Jenna is very shy, and the only person she allows even close is her chemistry teacher, Mr. Anderson. What will happen when she realizes her feelings for this charismatic might be reciprocated?
I liked this book a lot and found it hard to put down. Bick paints her characters in shades of gray, so it’s hard to tell who is being truthful and who is the monster, if anyone. The story is revealed slowly, by Jenna telling her recollections into a mini-recorder given to her by a police detective. This slow reveal will keep readers on the edge of their chairs, while showing them Jenna’s personality and inner trauma at the same time. I would recommend this title for fans of realistic fiction and readers who enjoy books like Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl and Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin.
Other books by Ilsa J. Bick