Underlake - Kia Heavey I have a love/hate relationship with books that make me cry. This book made me cry, and I loved it.

The first sixty or so pages were really slow. I wish that they could be condensed a little bit so that impatient readers don't give up on the story. I was starting to think the book was going to be fairly boring, but once it finally got going, it really took off. Katie was fairly irritating at first, but she had a ton of character growth fairly quickly and I found that she was an incredible and loveable character. There were times when John's stupidity and selfishness really got on my nerves, but he made Katie into a better version of herself (as she did for him) and I love him for that.

This book was marketed rather deceptively. The hook implies that Katie was uninterested in being friends with Sarah, Meredith and the other kids in the small town. She actually became very good friends with them. That was a big part of the reason she feel in love with the place. It was the local kids, not John, who got her to go back to Church. The hook seems to imply that Katie is an angsty teenager (which she was at first, but, like I said, she went through a lot of character growth early on that did make her likeable) who is acting up against her mother for no reason and has started dating a flattering snake of a boy who is actually a player or a user or something awful, when in reality Katie's mother was a distant, no-rules (except to plan out Katie's entire future for her) type who cared more about looking cool to her co-workers and cheating boyfriend than she did for her daughter. While John was keeping secrets from Katie, and sometimes was a complete idiot, he was the only person who was there for Katie when she desperately needed someone. While I understand the lack of mention of the fact that there are some mild themes of para-normalcy (all guided by God. No werewolves, no vampires,) due to the desire to make the reveal shocking, I felt that the lack of hinting toward it and the shocking reveal could make some people feel deceived. I had read another review that had hinted at it, so I wasn't completely unprepared, but I don't know what my reaction would have been if I hadn't been aware that it was in the book.

There were two main climaxes in the book. My assessment of them is going to have spoilers. The first and bigger of the climaxes came as Katie's built up months of depression (through which I cried nonstop) came to a head. The moment John dragged her into the lake...Well it wasn't explicitly mentioned, but given how deep her level of depression I think that John saved her life. I don't think Katie could have lasted much longer if she hadn't spent the winter under the lake. The only really bad thing about that occurrence, is that we really don't get to see Tess's character growth. Katie entered the lake at the very height of her mother's selfishness and (apparent) indifference. When Katie returned, Tess was a contrite, loving mother who had thought she had lost her daughter, and, in believing that, realized just how much she loved her. Except for a few glimpses of Tess through the ice, we don't see how she went from one extreme to the other.

The second, slightly smaller climax came when the next winter came, and honestly this was the only moment when I didn't like John. His anger at Katie because she did not want to go into the frozen lake for a couple months... I understand that he was terrified of what might happen if he didn't spend the winter under the ice, but he seemed so selfish during this part of the book. He refused even to try to live on the land, even though it was something that Kate desperately wanted, maybe even needed. This was the only time in the entire book that I wondered if John might not love Katie, and, honestly, while I did like the resolution, I think that the one way it could have been better, is if John had chosen, of his own free will, to stay with Katie. The lake rejecting him, and him nearly drowning was a dramatic scene that I enjoyed, especially since Katie saved his life--repaying him for saving her life--but I still wish that he would have made the decision himself.

I am more than willing to accept the idea that John told Father Pat his secret and his story, so that Father's apparent knowledge about him isn't terribly strange, but very soon after John left the lake for good, Mr. Corgon said of John that "I understand he’s back among us now so he’ll be needing a place to stay." This seems to imply that Mr. Corgon knew about John's curse/blessing and was not terribly surprised to find John back among the (fully) living, and it was never explained how or why Mr. Corgon knew of this.

As the end of the book kept drawing nearer I hoped desperately that we'd get to see the wedding, thinking I'd have a few complaints if we didn't, but luckily we did get to see John and Katie married. The ending was sort of bittersweet, John died. As an old and happy man, and the fact that he could die was a miracle in and of itself after all he'd been through. He finally got to see his parents and sisters again, and he finally got to go to God. But Katie was still alive, old, but alive, and it was hard to leave the story with them separated.

This is an incredibly good book, but do be warned that the book description is not particularly accurate. I also really appreciated The approach to some real problem faced by Christian teens, particularly that of being thought judgemental because you don't like some of the things that this worldly society encourages. I truly did not expect to be very impressed by this book, especially with the slow start, but it surprised me by being wonderful.