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Friday, March 14, 2014

Pulled Beneath By Marni Mann

A Review By Wendy
4.5 Omission, Reveal, Breakthrough Stars 
* * * * ½

Every day we make decisions… will I go to the store, will I go and hang with my friends or will I tell the truth about an event….

Some choices are very easy…. If you’re hungry… you have to eat… so shopping for food is a no brainer… but telling the truth about certain things can cause hours and hours of concern, stress and lead you right back to the same question…. Do I tell the truth about this event…?

And that question can lead to a lie which will change the course of your life, the lives of those around you and those who haven’t even been born yet. Because when you make the decision to withhold you are lying by omission…. It may not be as blatant or in your face… but the power and feel is just as strong when discovered.

Pulled Beneath by Marni Mann uses this as the basis of her book and it is as compelling as any I have read. We have a young woman, Drew, in Sarasota, Florida on the verge of finding a strong hold in her photographic career. Her vision and sense of light has been with her since childhood….. she sees the moments, the streams of the sunlight as if filters through everyday objects and captures their beauty… how they can caress the leaves or blades of grass. It is an ability which is like breathing to her.

She has recently broken up with a man who lied to her every day for years…. He lied with his smiles …. He lied with his excuses of “forgetting things” and he lied when he shared his body with others. As a means of escaping her pain from this… she seeks comfort in the connection with an old boyfriend, now hook up. There is no real feelings… just the coming together of bodies and it is the release and hiding place for now.

It is her going to this friend and not joining her parents for a meeting… a step forward in their landscape business which will haunt her…. By not being there… she is saved from the home invasion robbery and killing of her parents. She discovers this by driving up to her home; it is surrounded by the tell tale crime scene yellow tape and the only living family member she now has is Bella, the family dog.

Drew does have a support system in her best friend Gianna and her family. They take her in… deal with all of the arrangements and give her sanctuary of sorts…. but a number of things have happened and have changed everything about Drew and how she functions. She no longer can touch a camera…. something which was an extension of her limbs… she insisted on seeing the crime scene photos instead of going to the morgue…. An action which has stamped the visions of her mother and father in her brain with pools of blood and lifeless gazes…. She hears in her mind screams and voices… crashing objects and struggles fought… the noise of these sounds and the visions never leave her…so she cannot pick up her usual comfort, her camera.

She has only one place the noise turns to silence… water.  Drew swam through high school, competed but was not college level… but with this tragic event and the never-ending noise in her head…. she returns to the water and pool, doing lap after lap where the noise goes away and if she swims long enough she receives a little relief… a moment or two of nothing… no noise, pain or loss.

But it is short lived…. For life has another shock for her. It seems her mother, who was so close and loving with her, lied. Drew grew up thinking her grandparents had died when she was too little to ever know them. Her mother would tell her amazing tales of Maine where she had grown up. Stories of the air and how clean and fresh it was… of the seasons and her life there… and how her mother had met her father…. All these stories were the roots of Drew’s life… Yet this too was about to be taken from her. As the grandparents were not dead… until recently…and Drew was now left with the family home in Maine to settle. Drew, in shock, must decide what to do…. With the help of her friend… she decides to go with Bella to Maine… settle the house, put it up for sale and get out of Dodge…. That is the plan.

After driving to Bar Harbor, Maine from Florida she finally pulls up to the house. She has talked with the attorney who settled the estate of her grandmother. Unfortunately, he bought the practice from the original attorney who had been a long time friend…. So he has no real interaction with her deceased grandparents… only the bare minimum…. Yet it was enough to drop another bombshell…. Her mother had a sister… and she is alive and lives in England. The attorney promises to get in touch with her sister, gives her the names of the necessary realtor and contractor and now Drew is seeking release of some kind as she takes in all of this.

The house sits on land which leads to the ocean… the water calls to her and there she knows she will find her quiet.

It is there, standing on the rocks looking at the water when a voice asks her if she is lost. This voice turns out to be Saint, a man built like a dream with tattoos peeking out of a sleeve; tall, commanding and just plain beautiful in the rugged way a real guy is… no a tennis playing fella like she is use to… no, he is handsome in the way flannels look good and natural on the body. She answers, no the house is hers…. Left to her but she will be selling it. Saint’s warmth and friendly manner evaporates on the spot; turns and leaves. Not knowing what to make of it, Drew starts to go about her business… as the days go by she is still lost and the water and Bella are her only comfort.

This is a tale of learning… understanding… forgiving… and acceptance of who we are; who we think we are and who we can actually become. The lessons are complex and multi-layered. We see what damage can be done by lying… lying by omission can be just as damaging because the person has implied something which is still not true…

Yet… as wrong as it can be… there is an understanding which sometimes must be considered… was this lie overall for the good of all involved… and when should it have been revealed…

These are serious questions to consider, as everyday whether we want to or not, we are confronted with the choice of doing just that…of revealing things to those we care about… they may be as simple as that outfit really doesn’t look that great on them to telling a dear friend… they need to re think their use of alcohol.  

For me, the skill of this tale shows in the ease of the reading. While contemplating and trying to figure out all of the nuances which would lead me to more answers, I was fully engaged in the beauty of Bar Harbor. I was taken to a place I had no knowledge of… learned about lobster fishing and all the intricacies of the business. I was not bored. I wanted to be in this little town tasting all of the lobster rolls and Whoopee pies… every morsel. I wanted to smell the fresh sea air and have it skate across my arms like it did on Drew’s. The feeling of the seasons and the arctic temperatures of the water were as real to me as the transformation of Drew and the people she interacted with.

Drew and Saint end up interacting and when Saint touched his lips to Drew’s I wanted them to be mine. Saint was as fully formed as Drew. His life was shared with us and it is equally heartbreaking. The bond of pain is what these two start with… there is more to them than that… and learning and discovering it all is masterfully presented.

All of the characters were not cardboard cut outs... there to fill up space. All of them had some type of meaning and feelings spread across the pages... put there with real purpose.

I am someone who can have trouble with New Adult books… usually for me….too much angst… too much miscommunication. I become frustrated with these things. This was not the case with this book. This was a smart, caring read and I am so glad TeriLyn asked me to check it out. I found a new author for me and maybe for you, as well.

Arc provided by author in exchange for an honest review
A New Englander at heart, Marni Mann, now a Floridian is inspired by the sandy beaches and hot pink sunsets of Sarasota. She taps a mainstream appeal and shakes worldwide taboos, taking her readers on a dark and breathtaking journey. When she's not nose deep in her laptop, she's scouring for Nutella, traveling, reading, or walking her four-legged children.

Connect with Marni on her Facebook Page: or on Instagram: MarniMann

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