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Georgia Under Water Paperback – May 1, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Too often collections of vaguely related stories are given chapter numbers and passed off as a novel here what is essentially a novel is divided into short stories. The nine sections are chronological installments in the life of Georgia Jackson, from ages 12 through 15. Georgia lives in Daytona Beach and later Orlando, and comes from a deeply dysfunctional family. Her father, Buck, is an irresponsible alcoholic; her mother is depressed and irrational much of the time; her brother, Sid, is her mischievous ally at the beginning, but slowly drifts away. Though extremely bright, Georgia is, like most girls her age, confused about love and life in general. She is obsessed with her developing body and sexuality, but she often has to play the adult when dealing with her parents such as when her father gets drunk and makes a scene at a block party or when she is forced to hide out in an apartment with her mother, who sleeps in the tub. There is more than a hint of a not quite incestuous relationship between father and daughter, and it reaches a crescendo during a bizarre, seedy road trip to Atlanta. Sellers's prose is strong and vibrant, full of striking imagery and inventive turns of phrase. She perfectly captures the harrowing experience of adolescence and infuses even the darkest situations with an appealing absurdity. Readers will find it hard not to be charmed by Georgia's buoyant precociousness, and will want to read the gloomy final story as the end of her trial by fire and the beginning of a better life. (May)Forecast: Sarabande is a small but lively press without a big marketing budget, so a few prominent reviews and handselling will be crucial to the success of this title it's perfect for fans of Lynda Barry.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This smart, edgy book of interconnected stories follows Georgia Jackson from her 12th year through her 15th. Someone in the family seems always to be running away from home. Her depressed mother tries driving the family car into the Atlantic; her charming, alcoholic father says mildly, as though quitting a job, "I'm giving you my notice"; her younger brother and only friend goes off to live on a relative's farm. The protagonist has her own methods of escape: pretending to be drowning, dreaming of marriage to Oscar Love (a misfit with a "port-wine stain in the shape of Florida" on his cheek), and thinking constantly of sex while admittedly having no clear idea of what it entails. What she does know a lot about is her parents' problems and spectacles. Though her unstable home life causes her some embarrassment and anger, Georgia is mostly happy, and this is what makes her wonderfully unique and honest. She isn't a stock character who either wallows in her troubles or keeps her chin up, smiling through the tears. She cries and screams freely when necessary, then gets back to the business of being curious about human behavior, enjoying her gifted-and-talented science class, picking her scabs, and flirting with grocery clerks. Be prepared for some raw language, though none of it seems gratuitous. A memorable offering.

Emily Lloyd, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books; 1st edition (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1889330566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1889330563
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,298,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First of all, let me make clear that I'm not the author's brother or relative of any sort, not even a friend. I'm sure that type of "review" happens all too often on the net. I am a guy, which may be important in that many will wrongly assume this to be simply another girl book and an adolescent girl book at that. Richard Ford once invoked his criteria for great fiction in an article or essay he wrote somehwere, maybe about his friend Ray Carver. I've "stolen" his criteria as they seem to match mine. A work of fiction must be beautiful and useful. "Georgia" meets this standard in that the hard and often ambiguous or conflicting truths that Sellers expresses so well create a character and a world that are real, in that reality is a lot more chaotic and messy than we'd like to imagine. The truth in fictive form is beautiful when written well, from Chekhov on down the line to the present. Ford mentions in the same article the "consolation" offered by great literature, those moments where we see ourselves or close versions of ourselves in print and for a time anyway don't feel so alone. I would imagine this book will offer a great deal of consolation to anyone, adult or younger who has dealt with or is currently dealing with the effects of what we conveniently label as a dysfunctional family. And yes, it's a useful book in that we know and pay far too little attention to how how we humans are formed, or in this case how a beautiful but scarred and lonely fish learns to swim in the big, blue sea. We're not even sure if she "makes it" as the ending leaves us with a thankfully mysterious meditation on Georgia's future.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I really loved the characters and the lyric prose of this short story collection. I had a few problems though mainly with the contiunity of the story. I couldn't find an artistic reason to change the ages of characters (one story Georgia's brother is 1 year younger, then he is 2 years and then he seems to be older than she is (or maybe in Sellers world it is normal for a 13 yearold boy to leave home and have a job freelancing) and Georgia's romantic interest goes from being 2 years older to only one. Her father is still living with them when Georgia is 14, but in another story when Georgia is 15 her mother says that the father left 4 years ago. The physcal discriptions of people change (for instance Georgia's shrinking and expanding breasts--she is very aware of her body and in each story goes from talking about her new big chest to complaining that it is not developed at all in the next story). For some reason these inconstancies really bothered me and took away from the beauty of the book. An unreliable narrator is one thing, but an unreliable editor is something else.
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By A Customer on June 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Georgia Under Water by Heather Sellers is a collection of short stories in chronological order about a girl named Georgia, and her life beginning at about twelve to part way through her teenage years. She lives many in different places; pretty much somewhere new each story, but they are all different parts of Florida. Georgia has to put up with her parents, who are always arguing, turning her life into a traumatic sequence of events. At first it's she and her brother Sid, always together, discussing what they could do to keep their parents happy and in the same house. But in each story Georgia becomes more and more isolated, living on her own, dealing with her own difficulties, discovering herself.
Georgia's father is a crazy alcoholic who is never home and always yelling when he is, "Oh Jesus Christ, she has to do everything the goddamn hard way!" Her mother is very weak and always worrying he won't come back, "My mother was just a quiet skinny shy person, and I was going to be very different; I was more leader material." Their parents embarrass Georgia and Sid at first; they realize their family is different from most of the other kids at school. But Georgia learns of some other people who are different like her, and dreams of herself in their lives, maybe even best friends with them. She sees that she will not ever become one of the "normal" people, so she just lives with what she has, and learns to love both of her parents.
For an entire story Georgia and her mother are living together in an apartment next to their original one, which her father, Buck had now occupied with a new woman. They are too afraid to open the door, so Georgia doesn't go to school.
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By A Customer on April 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
It is 1:54 pm, and it has been almost 11 hours since I finished reading Heather Sellers' new collection of short stories, Georgia Under Water. They are phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. I didn't understand what she was doing for about the first half of her first short story, and then my brain finally woke up and I was able to _see_ what was being written. I have read so many hundreds of books about adolescent girls, and I love some of them a lot. Sitting in my suburban backyard on a blanket, I honest to God thought that I and L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon were soul-linked, that I had oh-so-much-in-common with the protagonist of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and that every single Madeleine L'Engle character was another extension of myself. However, I had never met Georgia. I had never known that she existed. Georgia is real. Not only is her mind sharp and soft and wanting, but her whole being is the impossible paradox of selfishness and altruism that I'm afraid I'm still exhibiting. Her thoughts are so specific and outrageous that I wish I could ignore them and separate them from myself as a reader, but I cannot. Why? Because I've thought them all before myself. They may not be the in the exact same forms, but some of them are so parallel to what was in my own head that it's eery. This book contains the missing bits and pieces of an adolescent girl's mind that I would swear to God never existed, but which, as I am forced to admit time and time again as I grow in love and understanding with Georgia, did. This "character" (though I hesitate to give her such a cold term) is honest and perceptive and blind and self-centered and full of impossible imaginations and biases and completely and utterly true. But this book.Read more ›
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