I do not envy an artist, of any medium, who’s first work is a massive success. The bar set incredibly high for future work, everything will always be compared to the first. This, unfortunately, is where we find Hawkins’ second novel.
You’ve probably heard of Girl on The Train, just a casual smash hit from breakout author Paula Hawkinis. Even if you never read it, you probably saw the movie adaptation with Emily Blunt (who definitely isn’t Pam Beasley). It was well written and interesting, over all a great novel.
How do you follow up a wildly successful debut novel about memory and mystery? Write another book about memory and mystery.
Hawkins opens Into the Water opens with our main character Jules learning that her older sister, Nel, has died. Nel leaves behind the house where she and Jules spent many years of their childhood and her daughter Lena. This house is in a small town, like tiny, that’s filled with family ties and secrets. This town also has a river running through it and an area called “The Drowning Pool.”
Let’s just take a second to appreciate that someone really didn’t want tourist to visit.
This drowning pool has a long history of death, everything from witch hunt victims to Lena’s best friend. Nel was obsessed with the pool and all the lives it had claimed. Women who created trouble and were taken ‘care of’ or decided to end it all themselves. She took hundreds of photos and was even writing a book about it. So when Nel’s body is found in the pool we have to ask, did she jump? Or was she pushed?
Honestly, it takes forever to find out. We learn tons about Lena’s best friend’s death, and lots about the various town people but it takes ages to make head way in Nel’s case. Not only that but Jules kinda sucks as a human, and translated to a flat written character, so I was annoyed the longer the story went on. Additionally the big a-ha memory moment isn’t really about Nel’s death and just proves Jules isn’t a sympathetic person. As for the ending, Hawkins set the text up in such a way that it might not have been my very first guess but I also wasn’t surprised by it.
To be clear, it was an enjoyable read over all. The different character perspectives were intriguing, the secrets were plentiful, and the premise was interesting but it wasn’t enough. But would I have felt the same way if Hawkins hadn’t set the bar so high the first time? Now I’m having my own *~MeMoRy FlaSHBacKs *+
As I said, I’m not jealous of super successful first works. Pick this one up and let me know if you agree or if you think I’m full of bologna.