Floating Underwater
by Tracy Shawn
Turbulent Muse Publishing

"'Did you ever stop to think your visions serve a purpose?'"

Paloma has always dreamed of becoming the mom her mentally ill mother never was. Her traumatic third miscarriage ignites doubts that perhaps she's more like her mother than she cares to believe. Sharing the out-of-body experiences, visions, and dreams that accompany her miscarriage with mystics in her town of Sunflower Beach, Paloma finds the strength to consider these a gift and not a curse. Listening to her friends and her own intuition, she takes steps to learn the truth about her past and accept the present.

The novel moves along in a series of spontaneous occurrences. Just as her miscarriage is unplanned, so too is her recovery from it. The book recounts breaks from work, walks on the beach, and naps. Outings with a longtime acquaintance and disturbed artist, Serena, punctuate Paloma's lackadaisical existence. She and Serena swim and enjoy dolphin (and perhaps mermaid) sightings. The sea, animals Paloma sees around town, and flowers, like those she arranges at her work at a florist shop, create a lush, mysterious, and open atmosphere in which the enlightening climax develops.

Paloma and her husband disagree about how to proceed with family planning. Unlike her organic outlook, his pragmatic approach presents Paloma with an opportunity to distinguish herself. Her character shines as she aligns with the colorful members of her community. Their candid exchanges about extraordinary happenings help Paloma find her voice with her husband. Curt dialogue between them becomes loving and understanding. She confronts instances of bias and criminalization of mental illness around her. A female coming-of-age story, the novel is also a detective thriller. In an unexpected twist, Paloma's visions lead her to unlock the mystery of her sister's disappearance when she was a girl. This multi-genre read celebrates the many and varied second chances life offers to those open to see them.

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