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by Nora Raleigh Baskin

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A lyrical and deeply moving portrait of grief, blame, and forgiveness, and of finding the courage to confront your ghosts — one truth at a time.

As soon as she was under, Maggie heard the quiet, though every sound was amplified in her ears and in her brain...Sound, like shame, travels four times faster under the water.
Though only a

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A lyrical and deeply moving portrait of grief, blame, and forgiveness, and of finding the courage to confront your ghosts — one truth at a time.

As soon as she was under, Maggie heard the quiet, though every sound was amplified in her ears and in her brain...Sound, like shame, travels four times faster under the water.
Though only a sophomore, Maggie Paris is a star on the varsity swim team, but she also has an uncanny, almost magical ability to draw out people’s deepest truths, even when they don’t intend to share them. It’s reached a point where most of her classmates, all but her steadfast best friend, now avoid her, and she’s taken to giving herself away every chance she gets to an unavailable — and ungrateful — popular boy from the wrestling team, just to prove she still exists. Even Maggie’s parents, who are busy avoiding each other and the secret deep at the heart of their devastated family, seem wary of her. Is there such a thing as too much truth?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From the perspective of sophomore Maggie Paris—with occasional interludes from the spirit of her sister, Leah, who drowned at age nine—Baskin (All We Know of Love) writes an unsettling novel that shows the impact of guilt and childhood trauma. Maggie is an excellent swimmer, a top contender on her school’s team, and people she barely knows tend to confide in her (“Maggie knew, even if no one else understood, that this kind of intimacy made people resent her”). Haunted by regret over not being able to save Leah’s life, Maggie feels distant from others and is reluctant to build a solid relationship with a boy who is interested in her. Maggie is a sympathetic, psychologically complex heroine; her self-destructive impulses, coupled with recurring reminders of loss and death (including flashbacks to her sister’s accident), create a bleak atmosphere. The passages from Maggie’s sister, presented as a collection of memories, cast the family’s vision of Leah in an intriguing new light, but are only peripherally related to Maggie’s immediate concerns. Ages 14–up. Agent: Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Deeply moving.
—Kirkus Reviews

Baskin writes an unsettling novel that shows the impact of guilt and childhood trauma.
—Publishers Weekly

Baskin limns her protagonist with quick, clear affecting portrait of the extent of the aftershocks from a family tragedy.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Maggie's sister, Leah, died when she was a child, and Maggie has never forgiven herself for not being able to save her from drowning. This event contributes to her low self-esteem, which leads her to engage in self-destructive behavior with an older boy who uses her for sex. Readers may be drawn in by the mystery surrounding Leah's death, but the shallow characterizations will put off those looking for a well-developed story. Water is used effectively as a metaphor, and Baskin is able to create a somber mood as anguish permeates the story. However, the third-person narration never allows readers to get close enough to Maggie, and Leah's interjections from beyond the grave can be jarring. Maggie's belief that she has a special power that forces others to confide in her also misses the mark in this story about grief and redemption. The sexual content is not graphic, but the lack of resolution by the novel's end is unsettling.—Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
When Leah was 9 and Maggie 5, the sisters made a forbidden trip to the condo pool, where Leah drowned. Now 15 and a swim-team star, Maggie interprets her world, her worth and her choices through the prism of that loss. Loner Maggie has one loyal friend, Julie, and acquires another in Nathan, the boy she's drawn into her life for reasons she can't explain. (Maggie's abrupt, often self-destructive choices may puzzle readers.) With heartbreaking clarity, Baskin limns a family tragedy that's marked each member, showing how, for even the youngest, grief and loss can scab over into guilt and blame. Leah's death even haunts Maggie's twin brothers, born years later. Water, the all-purpose metaphor, serves the tale well, but other tropes are less successful, like Maggie's unwanted, near-magical power to draw deeply personal confessions from others. In encounters with these undervalued characters (their only role to confess), Maggie's indifference to their pain casts her in a harsh light. Throughout, Leah makes ghostly appearances, describing the motivations that led to her drowning with unvarnished honesty. Yet her voice also sounds a quasi-fantastic note that undermines the story's closely observed, lyrical realism. At once frustrating and deeply moving, this ambitious novel comes tantalizingly close to getting it right. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

Nora Raleigh Baskin is the acclaimed author of several novels for young readers, including All We Know of Love. About Surfacing, she says, "The traumas I have experienced in my life seem to continually surface and demand to be told, and retold, in different forms. Each time, I find myself having to face something I hadn’t understood before." Nora Raleigh Baskin lives in New York State.

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Surfacing 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im the kind of girl who LOVES sad stories but not when they are so...pointless. The main character had a lot of emotional issues that were gripping but the way she delt with them was not only self-destructive and stupid but also very intentional. She let people walk all over her. The whole plot was slow, underdeveloped, and again pointlss. This book did nothing for me. The ending wasnt satisfying or even sad enough to make me feel anything other than disgust. The author paints us a dreary picture of life and although that can make for a great story, in this case it just wasted my time. There were several frustrating moments when i wanted to smack a few characters and no one in the book, not even the book its self had any redeeming qualities. It wasnt a witty, emotional, scary, exciting,.romantic, sweet, heart pounding, adventerous, depressing, or even heartbreaking story. It was nothing. It was bland and boring and shockingly empty of a STORY. The whole book is basically Maggie has a crappy life and only makes it crappier for herself on purpose. She doesnt even ,earn a good life lesson to make it seem like her 'journey' was worth while. I feel sorry for her because she clearly hates herself and doesnt see her own worth but honeatly this is the emptiest book ive ever read. Even books i think are bad and stupid have more in them then this book.
crayolakym More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Avery, age 9 Maggie is a great swimmer and on the high school swim team and loves swimming even though her little sister Leah drowned 10 years ago. Maggie has a secret gift, but not a good one. People tend to want to tell Maggie their deepest darkest secrets and once they realize they have spilled their guts, they get mad and embarrassed and it causes her to have a hard time making and keeping friends. It also makes her make poor choices, as she has a difficult time with peer pressure and how it affects her after the fact. “You always tell on me. And I always get in trouble.” This book shows us that being a kid is very difficult; we are often faced with situations we can’t control, like losing people we love, and doing stupid stuff, like caving to peer pressure and bullying, can make a big difference in how we see ourselves and how others see us. Growing up isn’t easy and this story shows us how important it is to have at least one person you can rely on and talk to to help through all the tough times that pop up. If you’re okay talking about teen sexuality, this is a great book for even tweens. I liked it a lot and I know you will too. *This book was provided in exchange for an honest review*  *You can view the original review at Musing with Crayolakym and San Francisco & Sacramento City Book Review
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    Surfacing is a quick read, but I liked it. I liked the premise of her almost magical ability that draws the truth from people and I love the themes of grief and blame that ultimately give way to forgiveness, so I knew that I needed to read this one.      Maggie was an enjoyable character and I saw a lot of character growth in her. I think a part of this is that the story is told partly in flashbacks, which is on the line of middle grade and young adult contemporary. It deals with some pretty hard core issues, but it is never gratuitously graphic, although there are scenes I wouldn't want a sixth grader to read, so I don't know. In parts (I did get a bit confused of the time line) she is only in 6th grade, but at some point she is a sophomore, because that is what the back of the book says... I am not sure where this transition is... This didn't take away from enjoying Maggie, although her voice is younger in some parts, which leads me to think middle grade.     I really liked her best friend Julie. It was a quick form relationship as young kids, and she stuck by her and  learned her nuances but loved her anyways. But she isn't just a cookie cutter, she has a personality and she questions and tries to get quieter Maggie to talk to her instead of just abandoning her like others seem to do because they end up telling her things they don't want to be out in the open.     I labeled this as contemporary because I was never quite sure about her ability. I know that some people are just easy to talk to and tell secrets to. So I think that the almost magical is key word.     The ending was more open ended and sad that I would like, but I think it fits the themes of the book.  Bottom Line: This is a sweet but dark story with a likable protagonist
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
Surfacing is a deeply moving novel that young adults will truly appreciate. Nora Raleigh Baskin strikes the perfect balance between the struggles of a teen and her grieving family and the typical teen experience. Maggie believes she has the ability to draw people to her just to have them reveal their most personal secrets. Her only solace lies in swimming, her one true friend Julie, and her obsessive crush on captain of the wrestling team, Matthew. With a solemn opening in the voice of Maggie's older sister Leah, readers are drawn into the heart of the story. Baskin gets to the point quickly, pushing readers through meaningful connections between Leah's drowning and how Maggie and her family deal with the long ago tragedy. Leah's interjections into the plot are reminiscences of their childhood and sometimes present observations, as if she's an invisible fly on the wall. A clever and interesting addition to the story, Leah will help draw readers' perception of Maggie. As Maggie struggles with grief and guilt over the event that further tore her family apart she begins to follow a destructive path. She's very naive in this regard, as if she recognizes that she's headed on a wrong course, but lets her low self-worth mean that it's all okay. Sometimes it's hard for even the reader to figure Maggie out, she shuts us out just as effectively as she shuts out her friends. Ultimately, though, her story shows its heartbreaking reality. Baskin's soft writing style takes the edge off any extreme emotions, but carries them into the hearts of readers. Surfacing will strike chords in readers young and old! *Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*