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Drowning Instinct - Ilsa J. Bick 4.5/5Originally published at Gypsy ReviewsDrowning Instinct touches on teacher-student relationships, abuse, mental illness and dealing with loss. It features a whole array of themes and draws you in very slowly as the issue at hand builds on but yet you become so conflicted about it because it’s not something commonly accepted by society. Yet the effects of the relationship actually benefit the characters. Can we still say that it’s wrong? So is the world truly black or white? Or is it filled with grey areas in between? Drowning Instinct makes you question what is right or wrong and you’ll love every bit of the ride.Jenna has lived under the roof of her controlling father and alcoholic mother for years and her older brother used to be a source of comfort to her, until he enlisted and got shipped off to Afghanistan. She has just come out of psychiatric treatment for cutting herself and is slowly adjusting to her new school where she meets Mr. Anderson. Gradually the two grow close and Mr. Anderson helps Jenna and she doesn’t have these thoughts anymore of wanting to cut herself and self-destruction. His presence is becoming a positive influence on Jenna and Jenna finally feels safe and feels like she has a place. But the thing is, Mr. Anderson is her teacher and he’s married.Usually in a story such as this one, you would be adamant towards a teacher-student relationship because it is inappropriate, it’s not right and so on. Sure, I am one of those people who think this way. But the fantastic aspect of Drowning Instinct is that despite the feelings that this issue evokes out of you, you feel so conflicted about how you feel because somehow in the middle of the book, I was hoping for Mr. Anderson and Jenna to get together because the change and influence he had on Jenna was helping her come out of that hole and making her accept reality and to stop running away from her issues. But then I remembered who they were and these two sides of me were constantly at odds and I had to question myself and wonder, is this issue black or white? Can you point-blank say that this relationship is wrong if them being together actually did something good? I loved how Drowning Instinct made me think and ponder and few books can actually achieve this.It did occur to me that if my belief in this issue could be undermined by a book that maybe my beliefs weren’t very strong but when it comes to something like this, sometimes you have to take another perspective because it helps you gain more understanding. You are not in their shoes, there is a reason they are engaged in this kind of relationship. Instead of just straight away saying I cannot accept this kind of behaviour and their relationship is wrong, I’m willing to take it from their point of view and understand why they willingly got into a relationship even though they both knew it was incorrect. Rather the book was an eye-opener and served as a reminder to always take the perspective of both sides.The writing was very good, usually in contemporary books you get a juvenile kind of style of writing and the writing is very teenagerish and immature but Drowning Instinct was down-to-earth, blunt, honest and it went beyond the surface. Jenna might seem like a typical teenager but she thinks and can see the true meaning because a person’s intention like how we would – we’re constantly reading behind people’s faces, words and wondering how they really fee;. This is something that books hardly ever write about because the character’s feelings and thoughts are all very one-sided, just things you see on the surface. This is why I enjoyed Jenna very much as a character too because her voice was something I could identify with and it was so real, this is how a real teenager thinks and talks.The pacing panned out well, it was slow but I didn’t find it slow. The events unfolded one by one and it did go day by day but I never got the sense that I was actually bored of reading because it was done so well that you don’t even feel like it’s slow. Nothing is rushed and everything is set on a realistic timeline. Honestly I was very surprised by some of the event reveals because I did not expect them at all. You would have never seen them coming because they’re so unpredictable and Drowning Instinct is not afraid to go the unconventional route.I really wanted to give this a full 5 stars but I couldn’t because the feeling just wasn’t there, one or two things did bother me, for example how Jenna kept convincing herself that Mr. Anderson didn’t care about her and ran away or avoided him. If she did it once, I could understand and rationalise that she was afraid and insecure; unready to let someone actually care about her. But she did it once again and I just couldn’t relate to her doing it a second time.But I definitely enjoyed this book very much, I highly recommend it! It is probably one of my top contemporary reads of the year.Verdict: You just have to read it, go to a bookstore and buy it now. --------------------Absolutely amazing book, it's conflicting and thought-provoking and I just devoured this book. The writing is beautiful and so honest, it delves deeper into how we think and goes beyond what we see on the surface. It's slow-paced but it works so well because you are not flooded with detail. -- Full review to come