arc book review: shallow pond

Shallow PondShallow Pond by Alissa Grosso (publication date: July 2013)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really difficult book to review without giving away spoilers!

From the brief synopsis I read, I initially assumed this would turn out to be a book about witches. I read “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” when I was younger, and for some reason the title “Shallow Pond”, along with the cover, made me assume this was about witches. Three sisters with a mysterious secret? They’re obviously magic. But I was wrong.

So, what is this book about, then? It’s narrated by Barbara (a.k.a. Babie) Bunting- the youngest of the three Bunting sisters. She’s an orphan, being raised by her eldest sister, Annie. The Bunting sisters have always lived in Shallow Pond, and the beginning of the book has Barbara worrying that she will never be able to escape the same fate. Barbara obsesses over the dangers of falling for new boy in town (who also has a mysterious past) Zach.

I found the opening of the book a bit repetitive. Barbara! Relax! You don’t have to avoid all contact with Zach- you can talk to him and still leave for college in the fall. Barbara was a narrator who seemed to me to exaggerate her situation a lot. However, I still found her likable enough to want to continue with the story.

About halfway through reading this, I gave up all hope of anything supernatural occurring. If it hadn’t even been mentioned or hinted at by then, I figured it wasn’t happening. But the somewhat random mention of sex offenders started to make me nervous that the secret in the girls’ past had something to do with child abuse.

Anyways, once I got to the Big Plot Twist, which is revealed to Barbara (and to us) about 2/3 of the way into the book by Annie, I was like: what the WHAT? Barbara, at this point in the book, assumed that she had everything figured out, and I was going along with her theory. Then we find out that basically everything we were led to believe was a lie.

That was a bit shocking, and I have to say I like that it came out of nowhere, because I like when books are unpredictable. So, despite the fact that this revelation comes from left field, the rest of the story makes sense. And then, when we find out the truth about Zach, it all comes together. I found the ending slightly abrupt- I noticed that I was on the Epilogue and was a bit surprised, but actually everything gets pretty well tied up.

Overall, this book started off a bit slow, but got much more surprising and interesting than I expected! I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a YA read with a mysterious plot, and some unexpected plot twists.

Thanks to the publishers, who via NetGalley provided me with this e-book for review!

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