Beware “The Drowning Girls”


th-1From the description, The Drowning Girls seemed like it would be a typical thriller, but it was much more. This was an intense family drama that focused on the McGinnis family and their new life behind the gilded gates of an exclusive and very wealthy community. When father, Phil, took a job in the community’s home owners’ association, a perk of his compensation included being able to live in a home behind the gates at a discount. As a school counselor, his wife, Liz, struggled to fit in among the wealthy wives who stayed home and pampered themselves daily. Their lives changed dramatically once their neighbor Kelsey befriended their daughter. 

The novel was told in two different time periods. The first was in 2014, as the family settled into the community. From that point, the story steadily unfolded, and even though there wasn’t a ton of action, I was interested in the family and genuinely liked them. Another part of the novel was in 2015, when Kelsey was found at the bottom of the McGinnis’ swimming pool. Those short chapters followed Liz and Danielle as they attempted to save her from drowning. As I sit down to blog about this book, I realize that it won’t sound very exciting, but the writing made this a captivating read even though not a lot happened. 

Kelsey started to stalk Phil at his office and then at his home by pretending to befriend his daughter, Danielle. She did not accept his rejection of her sexual advances and began to act out in a vindictive and dangerous way. There were some vandalism and other menacing acts performed to the community, which Phil thought was Kelsey’s way of sending him messages about his lack of interest in her.

Another aspect of this story was the deterioration of the relationship between Liz and Phil. That was all based on misunderstandings and secrets, but wasn’t overly dramatic. I guess I kept reading this because I liked the characters, all of whom had distinct voices and personalities. They were wounded by what was happening to them and that humanized them to a level that made them seem realistic. I also found the writing to be solid and easily portrayed the drama the family experienced.

I’ve dubbed this an “intense family drama” and created a new category just for novels like this. I liked this and would recommend it.

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