Underlake by Kia Heavey is an incredible coming-of-age story
that is rich with elements of love, mystery, suspense, even a touch of fantasy that you wouldn’t think could work–but WOW!–does it ever!!
This unpredictable story is packed with clever twists and turns, and superbly written. The prologue grabs you by the heart, and then we meet Katie, a teen who is very miffed to be separated from her trendy city friends and deposited in a boring hick town for the summer. But it turns out to be the opposite of boring. Charmed with life here, Katie doesn’t want to leave at summer’s end. She particularly doesn’t want to leave behind John, the impulsive, endearing young man who is so different from anyone she’s ever met. Little does she know, he’s concealing a deep, ancient secret that will change both their lives forever.
When I had to set this book down, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. In fact, I admit I let my kids watch too much TV so I could keep reading. I read with particular anticipation for the other-worldly aspect that is tantalizingly hinted at. The story takes a fantastical turn, yet the author makes it completely credible and so intriguing.
This is a modern, fast-paced story that teens (and their mothers!) will certainly enjoy, but besides being highly entertaining, it has moral value as well. Katie is a teen trying to find her place in the world, but she comes to realize that the mainstream “answers to happiness” that are pushed at her, won’t make her truly happy. She’s a smart young woman, and as she sees the consequences of bad choices (drinking, drugs, premarital sex) playing out around her, she is no longer fooled by the lure of “all things popular.”
Katie and her mother stopped going to church after her father died, but through the course of the story, Katie finds her way (believably) back to the Catholic Faith. The religious content is a credible, influential part of the story, and is never forced or out-of-place.
Underlake has the most magical, satisfying, heart-tugging ending. I loved how the final pages take you further down the road of the main characters’ lives than you would expect. You want to know the details of how their lives turn out because you care that much about them.
Underlake is one of those rare books that has the power to leave you with a lasting and meaningful impression. You close the book, but you continue to marvel over a story that has become so very real and dear to you.
Underlake is available in paperback and as a Kindle ebook.