Secrets have a way of floating to the surface. . . . Mystery, compelling characters, and an abandoned town beneath a lake make for a must-read adventure.
On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, who wears oversized swim trunks to cover the scars on his legs, joins Cassie in her daily swims across the off-limits side of the lake. As the summer heats up, the water drops lower and lower, offering them glimpses of the ghostly town and uncovering secrets one prominent town figure seems anxious to keep submerged. But like a swimmer who ventures too far from shore, Cassie realizes she can’t turn back. Can she bring their suspicions to light before it’s too late — and does she dare?
A poetic sensibility shines through this coming-of-age mystery from McKinlay. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A 12-year-old girl discovers a town secret hidden under thousands of gallons of water in this earnest, thematically rich exploration of the relationship between history and truth. —Kirkus Reviews
[R]eaders will hold their breath as [Cassie] challenges herself, swimming far into the forbidden side of the lake as the story unfolds. Her voice is convincing as she and Liam glimpse more of the drowned town. … Readers will enjoy spending time with Cassie and Liam and will appreciate the satisfying resolution. —School Library Journal
The mystery is within plausible bounds, and it leads to a secret that’s tragic but ultimately freeing. This makes the beautifully eerie seem everyday, an impressive feat that makes for an easy booktalk and an inviting read. —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
McKinlay’s prose is the perfect balance between the terse, sarcastic tone of a 12-year-old and the lyrical language that keeps a reader turning the pages. …. Thisis a story about many things; overcoming adversity, finding friendship in unlikely places, and how history has a way of retelling itself without all its parts. —Library Media Connection
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. —BookPage
[C]ompelling. —Booklist Online
[A] memorable and suspenseful novel for 9- to 14-year-olds. —The Wall Street Journal
[A]n intriguing, mysterious and suspenseful book. … The characters are true-to-life and the story realistic and genuine. —KidsReads.com