When Maggie Paris was young, her older sister Leah drowned in a community pool. Since that summer day, her family has been broken. Now Maggie Paris is a high school student, and must struggle with boys, swim team, and dark family secrets on her own.
Maggie also has a strange ability- friends and strangers alike share their deepest secrets with her. Maggie views this power as a curse, because once someone tells her their secrets, they avoid her as much as possible.
As family tensions rise, Maggie starts a relationship with Nathan, a sweet, friendly boy, in order to get attention from older student Matthew.
As her life and relationships begin to get tangled up, Maggie struggles to come to terms with her older sister's drowning, and to repair the emotional rift that divides her from her parents.
The ideas behind Surfacing have great potential. The mix of viewpoints from Leah and Maggie provided hints of what had really happened the day Leah drowned, and I enjoyed hearing the perspective of the older sister. Maggie's twin brothers were great opportunities for comic relief in an otherwise gloomy novel, and many characters, including Nathan and Julie, were very relatable.
Unfortunately, the story never really came together.
In the beginning of the book it seems that Maggie's ability to draw secrets out of people will play a major role in the story. As it turns out, the strange power dissapears halfway through the book, and never really affects the plot. This was dissapointing, because I expected the power to return for some sort of twist at the end.
Maggie is also an unlikeable character. While it is possible to craft a likeable character who makes mistakes, Maggie's incessant need to be wanted by Matthew just makes the reader angry at her. Maggie never gives a good enough justification, emotional or logical, for her boy-juggling behaviors. It would have been easier to be sympathetic if the book would have focused more on emotional turmoil she was going through and gave more plausible explanations as to why she felt the need to be loved by Matthew.
Despite the books shortcomings, I would recommend this book to pre-teen and teen girls who enjoy stories about relationships, and who have an afternoon to spare. Surfacing is a quick read that will at least provide a few hours of entertainment, perfect for lazy summer beach days or an afternoon in the hammock.