Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Plot Summary:
Wyatt and Rachel have one thing in common: loneliness. After losing his best friend, Tyler, Wyatt has cut himself off from everyone and everything. In order to start over, Wyatt has moved from his home in Long Island, New York, to a tiny town called Slakkill, New York. When Wyatt stepped off the train , he didn't expect the place to be covered a snow and shrouded in an eeriness that would make anyone uncomfortable. Although Mrs. Greenwood is a dear friend of his mother, he was a little "weirded" out that the house he would be living in is the same house that his mother's best friend, Danielle, ran away from and hasn't been seen since. Although everyone believed she was dead, her mother kept hoping she would come home, but, unfortunately, when Wyatt stepped into Danielle's room, he met her ghost. For Rachel, she has lived her life in the old abandoned tower because her surrogate mother told her that the world is a dangerous place and that she would be safe if no one knew where she was. For seventeen years, Rachel has known nothing but loneliness because her real mother had died when she was born and the only other person she could talk to is her adopted mother. However, Rachel has a very unique gift that will not only lead her to Wyatt, but provide her with the will, and the way, to leave her tower. As for Wyatt, the moment he stepped into Mrs. Greenwood's home, he knew something was strange was happening in this sleepy town that will not help him deal with his problems, but bring him the relief that he has been wanting since Tyler's death. Unfortunately, the closer Wyatt and Rachel get closer to the truth about Rachel's mother, Danielle, disappearance, the secrets from the past come back with a vengeance and the "Happily Ever After" were hoping for may come as a surprise. 

Critical Evaluation:
Alex Flinn has re-created a classic fairy tail, but with a dark twist. In this rendition, Flinn has incorporated very difficult issues such as drug use, death, and teen pregnancy into a fairy tail mixed with harshness of reality. Wyatt's best friend, Tyler, and his sister, we're brutally murdered by their stepfather and Wyatt believes that he could have prevented all of it if he just told someone that his best friend, and family, were being abused. Rather than moving on with his life, Wyatt decided to punish himself by pushing away his friends and his own mother. For Rachel, she has literally been held captive by her adoptive mother in a tower under the assumption it was the best thing for her. Rachel knows nothing of the world other than what she reads in her book. As the years passed by, Rachel has been plotting her escape, but, until recently, she learned that she has special healing powers. With this new discovery, her determination to leave has shifted from wanting to flee, but to pursue the truth behind her powers and who she is. In a strange turn of events, Rachel ends up saving Wyatt and it was at the moment, she learned that this guy was meant to be hers. If you are a true believer in destiny then this book definitely has that flare to it because nothing in this story screams that it there meeting was just a coincidence. Furthermore. Rachel and Wyatt have another connection other than fate and it revolves around Rachel's missing mother. Along with the magic, there is tragedy involved where Rachel's mother got caught up in a dangerous situation that cost her her life. This fairy tale spin is not at all what I imagined; in fact, unlike Cloaked, this story is filled with mystery, romance, murder, magic, and suspense. What makes Wyatt the hero is this story is that despite losing his best friend, he realized he has had so much more and Rachel and that is what compels him to rescue the maiden in the tower. Wyatt truly loves Rachel not because of her looks, but everything he has been searching for in a best friend and companion resides in her. Rachel is the epitome of naive; however, her willingness to take on obstacles (way beyond her experience) shows how pure and courageous she is. Wyatt and Rachel, in essence, need each other because if Wyatt had never fallen and that lake, he would have been killed. If Rachel had never rescued Wyatt from the lake, she would be stuck in her tower, wondering what life could have been. All though the story about the Rhapsody and the underground drug ring, curse, and prophecy is a bit far fetched as to why Rachel has special abilities, the story needs some fairy tale-esque climax and resolution. All in all, not a bad read.

Information about the Author:
According to her website:
I was born in a log cabin in the Big Woods of . . . okay, maybe not. I was born in a small town on Long Island, New York. When I was five years old, my mom said that I should be an author. I guess I must have nodded or something because, from that point on, every poem I ever wrote in school was submitted to Highlights or Cricket magazine. I was collecting rejection slips at age seven!
 My family moved to Miami when I was in middle school. I had a really hard time making friends, so I spent a lot of time reading and writing then. But unlike Christopher Paolini or Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, I never finished writing a novel. That was also when I learned to be a keen observer (Picture Harriet the Spy). By high school, I’d made some friends and gotten involved in various “gifted and talented” performing arts programs. I studied opera in college (I’m a coloratura — the really loud, high-pitched sopranos.) and then went to law school.

It was law school that probably helped with my first novel. Breathing Underwater deals with the serious and all-too-common problem of dating violence. I based the book on my experiences interning with the State Attorney’s Office and volunteering with battered women. I thought this was a really important topic, as 27 % of teenage girls surveyed have been hit by a boyfriend. I’m happy that the book is so popular, and if you are reading this bio because the book was assigned for school, I’m happy about that too.
 Right now, I live half a mile away from my old middle school, in Palmetto Bay, a suburb of Miami, with my husband, Gene, and daughters, Katie and Meredith.
Teen Fantasy, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to Towering:
Awards & Recognition:
  • Positive Review from School Library Journal

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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