May 17, 2013

The secrets beneath the water

By Meg McKinlay
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Cassie’s life has always revolved around water. On the day she was born, her town was drowned under thousands of gallons of water, turning Old Lower Grange into a giant, man-made lake. Because she has breathing problems, her mother and her doctor insist that she swim six laps a day, all summer long, in the town pool. In Below, the lyrical new middle grade novel by Australian writer Meg McKinlay, 12-year-old Cassie feels more and more drawn to the old town beneath the water and begins to realize that the lake might be hiding more than it seems.

New Lower Grange, the town that was built to replace Old Lower Grange, is full of people with secrets. Cassie’s friend Liam wears long shorts to hide the scars running down his legs. Liam’s father wanders the town, eternally constrained by the weight of a tragedy he was thought to have caused. Cassie’s father makes pottery to sell to tourists, but also specializes in ceramic “portraits,” generally made without the subjects’ knowledge or permission. The mayor of the town, Howard Finkle, the man who pulled the lever to drown Old Lower Grange, is obsessively protective of the created lake. And Cassie herself hides a secret—she has stopped swimming in the town pool and instead does her six laps a day in the restricted area of the lake above Old Lower Grange.

Below weaves the lives and stories of all these residents together, creating a narrative that is compelling, suspenseful and unique. Combining aspects of a mystery and a coming-of-age story, Below offers readers an opportunity to look beneath the surface and discover what lies below. And as the secrets of the town begin to be revealed, no amount of water can cover up what happens next!

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By Meg McKinlay
ISBN 9780763661267

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