*eARC kindly provided by Atria Books via NetGalley*
I finished this book eight days ago, and I still don't know what to say about it. I'm at a loss for words. If Ten Tiny Breaths hadn't impacted me as much as it did, I'd say that this was K.A. Tucker's best book to date (even without having read the last book in her TTB series). Hell, maybe it is. But nothing will ever compare as much as her first book, not to me at least. Still, Burying Water was freaking amazing!
Rating: 4.5 Stars!
This book was so much different from the TTB series. It was like a romantic suspense novel with heavy contemporary undertones. It wasn't exactly all about the mystery, but it wasn't just about the characters and their relationship. It's almost, simultaneously, about two different journeys, two completely separate lives being played out to bring the readers toward a wonderfully satisfying ending.
I don't know what's happening, but three other books I read in the last two months did the same thing as Burying Water. The stories were told in the past and present, with two different characters each with their own voice. And it's worked. They've all worked out so well. I wasn't sure this one would, given how K.A. set it up. It's so hard to accomplish a timeline like this and bringing together two journeys that are being read at the same time. Only we are aware of everything that is happening in the story and what the two characters have gone through to make it to that ending.
Water doesn't know who she is or how she came to be in this small town. All she knows is that she was in an accident. She doesn't even remember her own name. Her identity is gone, replaced with uncertainty, fear, and even a small bit of joy to be able to start over completely. I loved her strength and her determination, how she tried to move on with her life even after everything she'd been through. It was so easy for me to connect with her character, and I loved how the author gave her such a three-dimensional personality. Her character development was very wonderful. Water was still the same person she was before the accident, yet not. She became more confident and strong and she grabbed onto her life with both hands and didn't let go. Not even when she learned truths that turned her world upside down. Not even when she realized that the boy next door she was falling in love with was lying to her.
Jesse is Ginny's neighbor, the old woman who opened up her home to Water after she got out of the hospital. Water is drawn to Jesse, though she doesn't know why. But I do, because while I'm watching Water try to figure out her identity, I'm also being swept back into the past with Jesse's POV. I loved reading his perspective and watching their relationship develop. It was adorable and sweet and romantic, but full of fear and uncertainty, longing and heartbreak. Jesse was such a good guy, so protective and safe and warm. People liked to talk about him and what he was like in high school. But he's changed. He's not that same troublemaker who made mistakes that no one can seem to let go of. He was so determined to help Water, so sure that he could be the guy she needed. He loved her so much, and all he wanted was a life with her. I thought Jesse's development was a little lacking. There was a lot of focus on Water's growth, which left his behind. I think a lot of that had to do with his not-so-great relationships with his family members. I was hoping they'd start to get better, but they didn't.
Water and Jesse, two very different individuals living two very different lives, should never have met. But they did. They should never have fallen in love. But they did. Life isn't black and white, right and wrong, off or on. Life is messy and complicated and people are full of gray areas, thin lines and muddled emotions. These two knew that better than anyone. I loved their relationship with each other, both in the past and present. It was a slow-burning friendship that morphed into a passionate love affair that consumed them. I know some readers will be disappointed, maybe even a little angry. But I'm not one of them. I didn't care about the circumstances surrounding their relationship, because I just wanted them to be happy. And I could feel their chemistry and love for each other. Maybe it was wrong, maybe they should have done things differently. But everything worked out in the end.
I absolutely adored how Water's story also intertwined with Ginny's, the old woman who took her in. Through their shared connection, they bonded and helped heal each other. Ginny was sweet and abrasive, cold and reserved. But she became Water's family, and with her, they both found peace. She was one of my favorite secondary characters, and so was Meredith, Jesse's mom.
And boy, was that ending worth everything! I was so nervous, constantly wondering how the plot would unravel and what would happen to these characters that I found myself caring for deeply. I was so invested in Water's and Jesse's story, so hooked on their relationship and the two lives unfolding before my eyes. It wasn't hard for me to switch back and forth, wasn't hard to be pulled into the past after witnessing the present. It never became disjointed or confusing. It was just so brilliantly written. And I loved how everything played out. It wasn't full of drama, which I was happy about. I thought there'd be some challenges, but looking back, I don't think they were needed to bring Water's and Jesse's story full circle.
I just don't really know how to tell you about this book without giving anything away. I think you should go in completely blind and open to the story. That's the only way to read Burying Water. The only way.