To Swim Beneath the Earth
To Swim Beneath the Earth is deserving of five stars. Ginger Bensman wrote a beautiful novel with very strong images and good character development. The novel begins with Megan Kimsey, the main character, preparing for departure to South America. While on the airplane, she reflected on events that have happened in the past. This is primarily what the first half of the book was about. The two most poignant events in Megan’s life were the death of a young girl, Bella, and the death of her father. Megan was very close to both Bella and her father, and struggled through life trying to come to terms with their deaths. Since the time of those deaths, she felt disconnected from other family members, which included her mother.
While going through her father’s belongings after his death, Megan found a letter from a university in South America. From the time she was a child, Megan drew images on paper from her thoughts and dreams. The images she drew, and the intricate knots Megan was able create, had a connection with the ancient Incan people. Her father wrote to the university to inquire about the drawings and had saved the reply. It was because of this finding that Megan went on her journey to South America. The second half of the book was not only about Megan’s journey and the people she encountered, but also her story as seen through the eyes of ancient Incas. Because she was hypnotized, Megan was able to connect with her past life.
Not only is there a lot of Catholic symbolism in this novel, but also that of ancient Incan people. The theme of faith comes up at different times in this novel. I could tell that her faith is what helped Megan hang on even when times were rough.
The images were so profound in this novel that I felt like I was actually living Megan’s life with her. I laughed when Bella was in her bunny costume and then wanted to cry along with Megan as she held the lifeless young child in her arms. While Megan was in South America, I was able to paint a picture in my mind of the scenery, because of its description.
I also thought that To Swim Beneath the Earth was a very appropriate title for this novel. Megan continued to struggle with images of death throughout the novel. She often felt like she was struggling through life just to stay afloat–to be above the ground and a member of society with a purpose. By the end of the book, Megan does finally find her purpose. That purpose has to do more with life than death. Enjoy the beautiful imagery while journeying with Megan!
Horn Rimmed Editions