When the day finally arrives for the Norwegian Queen to sail off into an uncertain future, Aesa can’t help but fear the worst. Beyond the violent swells and impending storms, there is far more than death and danger awaiting her on her journey: love awaits her too.
Decker, a young but seasoned member of her father’s crew, is a force of nature as strong as Aesa, He’s her perfect match, and even she can’t deny it. But he too is a man of the sea, and with memories of tragedy and abandonment etched so deeply into her mind, can she overcome her demons and let him in or will she drown in her darkness, forever caught in its undertow?
There must be something wrong with me. Has to be. Everyone and their brother seems to think that Undertow is ah-mazing. I read 5 star review after 5 star review on Goodreads and while the story itself was good, I just couldn’t connect. And because I couldn’t connect, the story sort of dragged a bit for me.
It’s not you Amber Lynn Natusch, it’s me!
Undertow is like a healthy dose of The Deadliest Catch slammed with a wave of love. Aesa Fredriksen hasn’t been home to Alaska in 9 long years; not since having a giant blow out with her father. In an attempt to repair an otherwise shattered relationship she decides to apply for her residency at a hospital in Anchorage. That way she’ll be close to home and can try to repair the damage done all those years ago. When Aesa arrives home she sees that virtually nothing has changed. Her doorknob still hangs haphazardly off her bedroom door and the frame of her childhood bed still lies in ruins. Makes you wonder exactly how extreme this “fight” was. Yikes.
Aesa’s father is the captain of a crabbing boat. For people like me, and maybe you, too, that means absolutely nothing. I know nothing about crabbing. I’ve been fishing (in a pond) maybe twice in my life. My husband went fishing once and caught a pelican! Needless to say, we are not the sea going type. Turns out that crabbing is pretty darn dangerous. Have you ever seen the show A Thousand Ways to Die? I’m thinking that they could come up with those thousand ways just by spending time fishing up crab in the Bering Sea. These men are hard. Aesa’s father is no exception. The years apart seem to have thawed his heart a little and from time to time Aesa finds herself facing a loving father rather than a weathered sea captain. Aesa’s dad was pretty upset that she didn’t want to carry on the family business. She wasn’t a fisherman. In fact, she couldn’t stand the sea.
Most of Aesa’s “issues” have to do with abandonment. Her father was ALWAYS out at sea. Never home where he was needed. Her mother was unhappy and in turn found a watery grave in the Bering Sea. Doesn’t exactly scream “yay fishing!” Naturally Aesa has some trouble with the profession. Somehow she finds herself on her father’s ship surrounded by his crew. One man sticks out among the rest.
This man is unlike most sea going men. He doesn’t look hard – weathered. He’s bright and insightful. He sees things in Aesa that she has spent her life hiding. There is an instant connection between the two and though they try to fight it, the draw to one another is inevitable.
I told you this was a dangerous profession, right? Well, of course something happens while Aesa is one the boat. It’s scary enough to further fuel her hatred for the Bering Sea. Once she’s rescued she refuses to go out again; instead choosing to focus on her upcoming residency. With her father and Decker out at sea again, she’ll need to keep her mind busy.
“You,” I said with slightly more power behind the words that time.
Along comes ANOTHER TRAGEDY…. Gah, this chick cannot win! To make matters worse, someone she loves is determined to keep putting themselves in harm’s way. She doesn’t want to ask them to choose between herself and the sea so… she runs.
At the time, reading this book, it seemed to pass so slowly. I just wanted answers – an ending – something! Now, thinking back, it was actually a very well thought out read. Aesa was very proper. I am not. That made me a little batty. The thing is, it fit her character. If you’re bright enough to graduate first in your class from med school, you probably should talk like you have a stick shoved somewhere… I just wanted her to loosen up a little. Even the love scenes seemed a little clinical to me.
The best part of the novel is that this is something new. Many authors write books about kids going away to college, high school drama, or work place shenanigans, but rarely do you come across a book that takes place on a fishing vessel. It was refreshing and informative in the same breath. I have a new found respect for the men (and possibly women) who sacrifice their lives to provide me with yummy crab dinners. Next time I crack a leg, I’ll say a little prayer for their safety.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, choose this one. Read Undertow. You may have more luck connecting with the characters. Even if you don’t and end up like me, you will still find a memorable story and embark on an incredible adventure at sea.
I couldn’t help but watch her, curled up in the chair facing me. Everything about her was captivating. Her wavy auburn hair hung in the most disheveled way, the loose curls covering part of her face. It was hard to not push them aside so I could maintain a clear view. She made it hard to focus on the task at hand, but eventually I was able to pry my eyes from her lightly freckled face and stare out at the relative calm that stretched for miles before us. The calm before the storm.
That’s what Aesa’s controlled demeanor reminded me of: a placid façade belying a torment of emotions.
ABOUT AMBER LYNN:
If you’re dying to know more about me, allow me to put you at ease. I’m a sharp-tongued, sarcastic cancer, who loves vegetable smoothies, winter storms, and the word portfolio. I should NEVER be caffeinated, and require at least eight hours of sleep to even resemble a human being. At thirty-four, I just now feel like I can keep a straight face while saying the word “rectum” (which is actually a huge lie because I just laughed out loud while reading this to my husband). I live with my iPod firmly affixed to my body, drive too fast, and laugh/cry at inappropriate times.