09 October 2014

Review: This Is the Water by Yannick Murphy

This Is the Water by Yannick MurphyVery few authors can find a unique voice and style, but Yannick Murphy did it at least twice. First in her wonderfully different The Call and now in the mesmerizing and rhythmic This Is the Water.

It's difficult to capture this novel in just a few words: it's a character study, it's a psychological thriller, it's a kind of murder mystery, it's an examination of competitive teen sports; it's a look at life in a small town; it's about marriage. This Is Water is in a class by itself.

One of Murphy's strengths is the deep authenticity of her characters' inner dialogue. It's what made me fall in love with her earlier novel, and it's what made me connect to a group of swim parents with whom I share very little.

She is also one of the few authors who can pull off a novel told mostly in the second person, with many sentences beginning, "This is you . . ." And many more echoing that with "This is the water . . .," "This is the night . . .," and "This is our killer . . . ." The crazy thing is, it works and works well: the rhythm mimicking the everyday routines of the families we meet, of the swimmers in the pool, of time moving on even when our thoughts return to the past.

I can't promise that this is a book for everyone, but This Is the Water was a book for me and will appeal to anyone who likes character-driven novels and to those who like to step out of the ordinary. It's one of the best books I've read this year, and I cannot wait to see what Yannick Murphy comes up with next.

As much as loved This Is the Water, it's hard to imagine the challenge narrator Karen White faced when she sat down to record it (Harper Audio; 10 hr, 22 min). And yet her performance was nearly perfect. She avoided every easy way out -- no singsong tempo, no leading the listener, no overly dramatic, no judgment. But still her reading had emotion and tension and personality. White slipped as easily into Yannick Murphy's prose as swimmers enter a pool. An excellent listening experience.

HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780062294906
Source: Review (audiobook) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 10/9/14, 6:19 AM  

Usually second person narration turns me off, but I can see how it would work much better with audio.

Stacy at The Novel Life 10/9/14, 9:09 AM  

Karen White is as great a narrator as she is a writer. Very talented lady. This one is going to the top of my list. Thanks!

Daryl 10/9/14, 11:15 AM  

sounds like a good read .. i will add it to the list, thanks!

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/9/14, 3:38 PM  

What a rave! I guess I'd better read it.

Busy Brunette 10/9/14, 6:24 PM  

Great review! Makes me very excited to read it :)

Sheila (Bookjourney) 10/10/14, 9:03 AM  

This sounds like one that I would like to take a closer look at!

Trisha 10/10/14, 11:04 PM  

I've only read one other book (that I can remember) told in second person: The Crimson Petal and the White - which was awesome. I am definitely intrigued by this book

Lu @ Regular Rumination 10/13/14, 5:59 PM  

Oh no, 2nd person! I really don't like it, but I believe you that she pulls it off! I might have to give it a try!

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