This book made me feel things, friends. It's evocative, tense, and compelling and made my heart hurt so much while reading it. But there's also a lot of hope and Jess' grit to survive no matter the setbacks also filled my heart.
"They think I'm wounded, but there is a difference between a wound and a scar. I’m done bleeding. I’m tougher now."I love the main character Jess so much. She's had such a hard time and things only get worse as the book progresses, but despite everything she doesn't lose hope. She doesn't succumb to the despair of the situation, but she also does her best to not push herself and her injuries too far.
This book has disability representation and challenges the "just do things to get better" mentality of her ableist father. She was injured badly in the car accident that killed her mother and lead to her needing to move in with her survivalist father.
"The air hums and shivers with the sound of the engine. It works it’s way down into my breastbone and speeds up my heart until it beats like a hummingbirds wings."Marshall is a master with words and a self-proclaimed genre magpie, the latter phrase I totally get now. This book and Rules for Vanishing are completely different genres, but she's able to craft tension filled narratives and paint pictures for all of your senses. I was anxious as hell. But with the tension, the sense of isolation and loneliness that Jess experiences oozes from the page.
I really enjoyed the narrative structure of the book. It's told in two timelines: before and after, woven together in alternating chapters until she catches up with the present around a third of the way into the book. This structure contributed to the anxiety because you don't know what exactly happened to leave her stranded in the middle of the wilderness.
Overall, I Am Still Alive is a stunning debut novel that more people should read. Marshall is an incredibly talented writer whose place on my instant buy list is secured.
Content warnings: Animal death, death of a parent, hunting and related survival activities, murder
Initial thoughts: I’m going to need a freaking minute to recover.