Watermark (The Broken Bell, #1)

Watermark (The Broken Bell, #1)
Age Range
Release Date
May 05, 2020
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The oldest child in a troubled Philadelphia family, Angel Ferente struggles to care for her three sisters while pursuing her goal of attending college on a swimming scholarship. She has a problematic relationship with her mother, Pic, who uses alcohol and drugs to self-medicate and at one point lost custody for a year, and an outright hostile relationship with her stepfather, the only father figure in her life. Angel is the center of stability in the household―making sure the younger girls get to school, ensuring that holidays are observed, doing the family’s laundry at her part-time job at a Laundromat, and even taking care of Pic when she is sick or depressed. It’s 1993, the midst of the crack epidemic, and Angel and her sisters are witness to the everyday events of life in a community beset by poverty and drugs: dealers on the corner, shoot-outs that kill bystanders, prostitutes on the job, and more.

Then Angel goes to a team party on New Year’s Eve―and doesn’t come home afterward. In the wake of her disappearance, her teammates, her coach’s church, and her family search the city for her. The result changes their lives forever.

Editor review

1 review
historical suspense
Overall rating
Writing Style
WATERMARK is a dark historical (takes place in the 1990s) suspense. The book follows Jeannine, Angel's sister, and Alex, her friend, after her disappearance on New Year's Eve. Angel and Jeannine's mother, Pic, has an alcohol and drug addiction that often leaves her unable to care for the children. Pic remarried when Angel was 13, and the new husband, Frank, is abusive. Now, several years later, they have two daughters who Angel mostly looks after, sometimes leaving Jeannine in charge as she is now 13.

Angel's disappearance is heavily noticed by Jeannine and Alex, and the whole she has left in their lives lead them to try to seek answers, even when the police treat it as a missing persons case, assuming Angel left of her own volition.

What I loved: The book often felt very raw, with the text resembling flow of consciousness and not always flowing in a straight-line. This added to the suspense and the characterizations of Angel, Pic, Jeannine, Alex, and others.

What left me wanting more: The plot can be difficult to follow in places and the stories are not smoothly connected. I had to reread sections to try to understand more and place all the people together. We are thrown a lot of names at the beginning, and its tough to remember how they all connect.

The book deals with some big topics in a realistic way, and I would add warnings for child abuse, incest, addiction, child neglect, abortion, and domestic violence.

Final verdict: This raw book will appeal to readers who like to read mysteries/suspense with heavy topics.
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