Knee Deep – Book Review

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“We all allowed ourselves to believe that everything would be okay, when in fact, nothing would ever be the same again.”

This book was exactly what I needed to read at this moment in time! The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has a devastating effect on young Camille’s life, yet the story provided an uplifting message of hope in current times – whether it’s a pandemic or a hurricane, love can transcend any disaster! The book is filled with love, hope and heartbreak, as well as a little spirituality, and really provides a little something for everyone. I’m confident many people will enjoy this one!

Named after a hurricane, Camille is the rebellious sixteen-year-old daughter of a New Orleans bar-owner who grows up in the shadow of Bourbon Street, raised on stories of hauntings, lusty encounters and voodoo magic.  And even though her family loses their home in a hurricane, she counts herself among the lucky until she discovers that her eighteen-year-old neighbor whom she secretly loves goes missing in the storm. 

Camille’s story unfolds as a Mardi Gras memoir, one girl’s journey through the parties and the parades as her community comes together and rises up from the chaos following the devastating storm.

The beginning.

After reading a few serious books lately, it was so nice to read something which started off a bit lighter – something that made me smile and giggle, and it was so welcome in such worrying times. The beginning of the story was so refreshing – we meet the main character, Camille, who describes how her parents met, how she’s been a romantic at heart for some years and introduces us to her two friends, Gina and Beano. We get a really clear opening to the story, which flowed seamlessly into the main story. By the time the first chapter was over, I already felt so involved and I could tell the rest of the book would be just as entertaining. The author’s style of writing was so welcoming and as easy to follow as a smooth flowing conversation with a friend. I loved it!

We quickly learn about the guy Camille’s had a crush on for a while, Antwone, who seems like the coolest guy on the planet. Camille shares the exact moment she fell in love with him, which was such a meaningful story, and even explains how he came to her aid when she was getting bullied. I loved how real everything felt, almost like I’d known all the characters in the book for a while, and the author seems to have effortlessly created such memorable characters, each with their own unique traits. From reading the synopsis to the book, I knew something bad was imminent and I knew I’d turn into an emotional wreck soon enough, but reading such a strong, solid opening gave me hope for a happy ending. (Please?!)

Camille and her family prepare their home for the storm, with herself, her mother and Antwone’s grandmother travelling away to safety shortly after. After a brief romantic moment with Antwone, he tells her he’ll join her after he runs an errand. However, it isn’t long before Hurricane Katrina arrives, tearing through the city and destroying everything in its path. I remember watching this on the news some years ago and feeling terrified for those caught in it, which made me feel equally as terrified for the characters in the story. Camille hears news of deaths over in Florida, and her concerns for Antwone’s safety escalate. The author has built up so much suspense whilst also keeping the story as light as possible, which I particularly enjoyed. I just hoped the characters would get out in one piece!

“My entire life I have felt like an extra bracelet on the arm of an overly accessorized drag queen.”

I was so happy the book covered topics of racism and how interracial dating is frowned upon in certain cultures. To me, this is completely bizarre, but I think with recent serious news topics, many people need to read this to educate themselves a little more. The author has covered many themes from culture and race, to sexuality, romantic feelings and the importance of family in people’s lives, and each has been tackled admirably in a way that will make sense to readers of many levels. The author impressed me over and over again, with each chapter being an absolute delight to read. So far, the story had been pieced together perfectly and it would be interesting to see if this was consistent throughout the story as things began to get more serious and dangerous for the characters.

The middle.

After days of losing hope and thinking those they left behind were in trouble, (or worse, dead) Camille is shocked, yet relieved when Antwone finally makes an appearance. However, this was very short lived. He didn’t seem his usual self and he didn’t seem to know much about how he got there, which was worrying! Even though this was a scary moment for both Camille and Antwone, I couldn’t help but get more excited about the story and how it would unfold. I wanted to know what happened to the rest of their families and whether they were safe from the storm, and just what was really going on in the world they once knew. Again, the suspense was brilliant, as were the cliff hangers after each chapter. The story was turning out to be better and more unexpected than I’d hoped!

When Antwone makes a bold, shocking statement, my mouth fell open, and every emotion ever filled my heart. The story was beginning to slot into place and I loved how the characters did what they needed to do to save their families and look out for one another. There is so much sadness and heartbreak during this part of the story, but I also sensed that it was the beginning of something much greater for Camille. She realises she has a special gift, something which is not only useful to herself and her family, but to other people too. The story seemed to be going in a direction I didn’t expect in the slightest, and I was really enjoying where Camille’s journey was taking her. Even though there was so much danger and uncertainty around, I was quite confident her newly found skill would prove particularly useful, and may even give herself and her family the closure they needed.

Camille and her family are left to deal with the devastating aftermath of the storm which made for very powerful reading. The author filled me with emotion yet again and her words and description were strong and captivating. Camille’s special gift takes the story down a more spiritual path, helping one particular character to find their way. I loved the route this story took and thought it was so unique and engaging, filling me with a mixture of joy and sadness that was simply beautiful to experience. Camille soon visits a buried voodoo queen for answers, and she knows she must let this character go and allow them to be free – but how do you say simply say goodbye to someone you love so deeply, especially if you have the option of keeping them there? Camille goes through so much and is such a strong and well developed character. I only wanted closure and happiness for her!

“I couldn’t tell another living soul what might have happened under the Evangeline Oak – not until I figured it out myself.”

After making a deal with the voodoo queen, Camille is forced to make good use of her time. The Twelfth Night party was looming and she had a plan to stick to! However, Camille is once again let down by a number of things and quickly learns some hard truths. Her friends do such a great job of helping her through her loss in the right way, and learning the truth about her love’s real feelings begins to bring her some sort of closure and acceptance of letting go. The story so far has made me think about life much more and taught me to make the most of every day, especially with the world being the crazy place it is right now. With so much happening, it’s more important than ever to get along with others and to stay safe with the ones you love.

The end.

From attempting to make peace with her enemies, Camille suffers far worse than she imagined. After an altercation in the school canteen, she’s grounded, forced to miss out on some Mardis Gras celebrations and loses her two closest friends to her actions. She realises that she’s been thinking about her own wants and desires over others which really backfires. I appreciated reading about Camille’s turning point how she realised she needed to change and let things go. The author has captured her growth in strength and personality perfectly, and it was interesting to read how her friends and family reacted to her new choices.

Camille’s love for Antwone becomes so strong throughout the story, but the time comes for her to make an important decision – one that doesn’t just impact her, but everyone around her too. Her strength shines through even further and it was an emotional experience reading about the things she did for the best. The author’s choice of wording and descriptions of feelings in the end of the book were extremely effective, and they really make the reader feel exactly what Camille is experiencing. As well as all this, she also has to watch her back – one particular character seeks revenge from an earlier disagreement in the story, something which could turn nasty if not dealt with in the right way.

There was an incredibly frightening scene within the final few chapters, where many characters are put in immense danger. We see a turning point for one particular character, death and injury, as well as a spiritual experience which felt magical to read. Camille accepts fate while going through a grieving period, but knows in her heart that things are as they should be. I was touched by what I read in the book’s final pages, and I was so impressed by the author’s use of language and how well the end of the book came together. The book proved to be an unforgettable experience and I’m certain Camille’s story will not leave my head for a while!

“They say that the eyes are the windows to your soul, which perhaps explains how I knew that it was not his eyes that were watching me.”

The final chapter beautifully explains two characters’ take on life on Earth and what it all means. We also hear a plan of Camille’s life from a character who has already seen it all, which I really enjoyed. It made me smile and gave me so much hope for Camille’s future! This chapter rounded off the story well and portrays the love and lust two people share, even thought it was some of the most saddening and heart-breaking text I have ever read. Not only does Camille get closure, but readers do too, and I think this is what really creates the memorable ending that all readers long for. An incredible book that I simply cannot fault!

Overall thoughts

I don’t even know where to start with describing the pure beauty of this book. I’m still in awe some time after reading the final chapter! The book shows one character’s incredible journey following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, losing something she loves whilst also gaining the strength and power to help herself heal and to assist others in need. The author is such a talented writer who has obviously nailed character creation and developed a plot to both break your heart and bring you happiness. I think this story is one that everyone should experience and it has definitely made me think about life in a whole new way. This book is very deserving of a place on my bookshelf – I’m pre-ordering the paperback right now!

Thank you SO much to the author, Karol Hoeffner, and to Arden at Farrow Communications – this book has been an absolute pleasure to read and review! Knee Deep will be released on September 25th and you can pre-order it from Regal House Publishing or Amazon today! You can follow the author over on Twitter and Instagram for more updates in the run up to its release.

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