Georgia Under Water

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

From the first story in Georgia Under Water, when at age twelve Georgia Jackson witnesses the manic break-up of her alcoholic father and her insecure mother, to the last one, when she loses her virginity in a motel at age fifteen, the reader will find it hard to resist author Heather Sellers’s unflinching examination of what it’s like when a young girl becomes a sexual being.

Although Georgia’s constant obsession with her sexuality may initially seem exaggerated, and although her edgy physical relationship with her father may seem potentially perverse, Sellers has succeeded here in complexly capturing the confusion, chaos, and conflicting emotions of an adolescent female both disturbed and delighted with the growth of her breasts and the yearning of her loins.

The seven stories told from Georgia’s point of view reflect, in stormy syntax, both her innocence and confusion, as well as her sensuality and keen perception. The break-up scene in the first story, with Georgia hiding in the credenza and her brother hanging off the balcony, while her father drunkenly rages and her mother drives the family car into the ocean is a chaotic comic archetype of dysfunction and divorce.

Other stories capture such female adolescent rites of passage as a growth spurt when almost overnight a scrawny kid is transformed into a “blonde leggy babe,” an infatuation with a teacher complete with fantasies of having his babies, and the discovery that pulling down a man’s pants is not like slipping the trousers off a Ken doll.

These stories are well worth reading for their candid portrayal of an engaging adolescent female, who, although frequently underwater, is finally “a proud swimmer striking out for a new destiny.”