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Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce
Literary fiction

Pull Me Under

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Kelly Luce, on your first book!

by Kelly Luce

Quick take

Luce delves deep into the problems Rio faced - losing her mother, being abandoned by her father and tormented by the school bully - but never once makes excuses for her violent act.

Why I love it

Liberty Hardy
BOTM Judge

What no one knows about Rio Silvestri, a thirty-something woman living a picture perfect life in Colorado with her husband and daughter, is that when she was 12 years old and living in Japan, she stabbed the school bully in the neck with a letter opener. Gasp!

Rio would be content to keep her secret hidden for the rest of her life, but when a mysterious letter arrives at her doorstep informing her of the death of her father, Rio realizes she may not have put the past completely behind her She journeys back to Japan alone for his funeral opening the door to decades-old hurts and grief, while taking readers on a dark journey in search of truth and closure.

Kelly Luce is an incendiary writer, and her sentences sizzle like a lit fuse. Beginning with the story of Rio’s traumatic childhood in Japan, Luce delves deep into the problems Rio faced - losing her mother, being abandoned by her father and tormented by the school bully - but never once makes excuses for her violent act. Instead Luce captures Rio’s loneliness and rage, and explores these themes with rawness and compassion, from Rio’s teen years as a resident of a Japanese psychiatric facility, through to her years of rebuilding herself in America, right up to her return to Japan.

The question at the heart of this psychologically intense mystery is not a whodunit - we know Rio did it. Instead, the mystery lies within Rio herself: Has she really changed? Will returning to Japan make her repressed feelings and anger come bubbling to the surface? Is it possible to be a whole person without redemption or forgiveness? Can a person ever escape her past?

I cannot stress enough how magnificent the writing is in the book, and how well Luce breathes a haunting realism into the story so that despair and hope become entwined.

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