Below by Meg McKinlay Book Review

Below by Meg McKinlay

On the day Cassie was born, Old Lower Grange was buried five thousand swimming pools' worth of water. Twelve years later, Cassie is still haunted by that day, by the town she never knew. Everyone seems to have a story about the old town, the old house, their old life, and Cassie feels left out. As the summer progresses, Cassie finds herself drawn to the lake and its mysteries. And as a drought grips their town, pieces of Old Lower Grange begin to emerge from the water. With the help of Liam, a boy whose life was also changed on that fateful day twelve years ago, they begin to realize that not even a lake can hide its secrets.

Haunting and tightly woven, Below felt original and authentic. The characters were interesting in a way that only two twelve-year-old can be and their hunt for something that was lost to them was something that I could relate to, although my obsessions were slightly different. The image of this town, 200 feet below the surface and the children swimming the streets from above was absolutely beautiful and terrible. It reminded me of a documentary I once watched about Dana, Massachusetts in which the town was put underwater to make room for a resevoir. Once a year, the residents of the town have been allowed back in to reminisce, share some food, and mourn the loos of their town. There aren't many left who remember. Cassie refuses to allow her town to stay buried.

The plot driving element is of course the mystery. The town's mayor is clearly worried about the water's low levels, but his concern seems to be more than just drought worry. What is he hiding? Cassie thinks she may know.

I loved this little book. It reminded me a lot of Homesick, quite, dark, but also beautiful and hopeful. A definite plus for any bookshelf.