Title: Learning Not To Drown
Author: Anna Shinoda
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Summary: Family secrets cut to the bone in this mesmerizing debut novel about a teen whose drug-addicted brother is the prodigal son one time too many.
There is a pecking order to every family. Seventeen-year old Clare is the overprotected baby; Peter is the typical, rebellious middle child; and Luke is the oldest, the can’t-do-wrong favorite. To their mother, they are a normal, happy family.
To Clare, they are a family on the verge of disaster. Clare: the ambitious striver; Peter: the angry ticking time bomb; and Luke: a drug-addicted convicted felon who has been in and out of jail for as long as Clare can remember—and who has always been bailed out by their parents.
Clare loves Luke, but life as his sister hasn’t been easy. And when he comes home (again), she wants to believe this time will be different (again). Yet when the truths behind his arrests begin to surface, everything Clare knows is shaken to its core. And then Luke is arrested. Again.
Except this time is different, because Clare’s mom does the unthinkable on Luke’s behalf, and Clare has to decide whether turning her back on family is a selfish act…or the only way to keep from drowning along with them.
Debut novelist Anna Shinoda’s raw, gritty, powerful novel cuts right to the bone and brings to life the skeletons the lurk in the closet.
We often hear the term career criminals. We don’t really have much compassion for them and just want to lock them up and throw away the key. Some do some pretty horrendous crimes.
What we don’t do is stop to think about the family they leave behind.
That is exactly what this book is about. Luke is a what they consider a career criminal. He has been in and out of jail since he was a teenager. His parents have always been on his side 100%, no matter what. Luke has a younger brother and sister that are often emotionally put aside for Luke’s needs by their parents.
The main character in this book is Claire. She grows up with her oldest brother in and out of jail. She was not told until she was 17 what crimes Luke the brother she looks up to, actually committed.
This book touches on emotions, feelings and situations we don’t really think about when we think of criminals. I felt myself feeling sorry for the family not for Luke. Luke choose to do these things, his family did not.
This is the debut novel by this author. I loved it and hope she writes more. I read this book in 2 days. I just couldn’t put it down. I give it a 5 out of 5.