Lush and poignant, warm and heartbreaking, DROWNING IS INEVITABLE is a moving YA debut about the bonds of love, friendship and family--all with the ultimate stakes at hand. Everyone in the tiny Louisiana parish of St. Francisville secretly expects Olivia to kill herself by her 18th birthday, just like her mother, Lillian did, a few days after she was born. After all, Olivia has always been a little odd, and dating Max, her handsome but hard-drinking, hot tempered boyfriend has earned her a reputation for being a wild child. But the town doesn't expect Olivia to get tangled up in a homicide. And yet when her best friend, Jamie, tries to ward off his abusive father, that's exactly what happens. In a flash, Jamie, Olivia, Max and their friend Maggie become fugitives on a desperate flight over the back roads of Louisiana. They're headed to New Orleans where they hope to blend in with the crowds, and find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces on all the news stations, and shady characters manipulating them, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide and seek from the police, as each teen struggles to break from the pasts that haunt them.
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Drowning is Inevitable is a stunning, magnificent book that should be on readers’ immediate buy lists. Shalanda Stanley’s writing is beautiful and consuming. There is a strange sense of both melancholy and hope throughout the story, and hearts will break over and over as Olivia discovers how she and her mother fit together, what sacrifice means, and how far she will go for a friend. The sentences have a way of sinking their weight in slowly and calmly, almost leaving it up to the reader to decide how much weight s/he can bear.
This is hands down the best book I have read that captures and embraces the idea of platonic soulmates. The person that can mean the world to you, the one you would literally go to the ends of the Earth for, is not always the person you are romantically involved with. The author harnesses that friendship dynamic and creates a simply beautiful relationship. The interactions with Olivia’s boyfriend, Max, are also nailed to perfection. This is far from any kind of romantic love triangle, but the author brings in natural emotions that come from having to decide what path to go on when they all cannot go the same way. Each character, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie, are all distinctive and complex, and it is pure joy to read about their group.
With a plot that never lets up, more realism than a heart can handle sometimes, and a genius examination of the ties between a group of people and a town, Drowning is Inevitable is a story to stay in hearts forever and on the bookshelf for as long as humanly possible. Shalanda Stanley crafted what is bound to beloved by many, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.