drown“Amanda’s pulse was racing by 5:30 A.M., and the air, emerging shivery and wet from its bath in the early autumn night, made her hurry still faster.” – p 260

This is a phenomenal book for a first time author to publish.  The storytelling is amazing, the plot perfectly paced, and the details of the lives of the Starkeys revealed just at the right speed to keep you reading with anticipation.  Usually, books that are suspense drama stories frustrate me and I speed through them simply to find out what happens.  This novel, however, was so well balanced between the tragedy of the past and the looming tragedies of the present that I was more than satisfied to read at a normal pace – to soak up all the story that I could; despite the fact I somehow thought the main characters were black for the first third of the novel (I have NO idea why, they’re of Scandanavian descent.)

As for the plot – here you go:  Amanda Starkey returns home to her sister and niece, burned out from nursing wounded WWI soldiers back to health.  We learn at the beginning, this is in the past, and now Amanda is raising her niece, Ruth, without her sister.  Amanda’s sister, Mattie, has drowned under mysterious circumstances, leaving Ruth behind and her husband a widower just as he is returning from the war.  Now, Amanda must raise her niece and balance the awkward relationship between herself and her brother in law, Carl, while struggling with the immense guilt of what happened the night Mattie drowned.  Ruth is struggling to adapt to normal society, Carl is still trying to reconcile himself to what happened to Mattie, and Amanda is nearly lost in her own world.  Through a series of events which play out in the present, Amanda is forced to reveal what really happened to Mattie and why.

This is as good as they come, when you’re dealing with suspenseful dramas.  An engrossing read which will stay with you after you’ve closed it, it’ll bring you to reconsider the importance of family, honesty, and love.

“Drowning Ruth” was written by Christina Schwarz and published in 2001.