Book Review: Absolute Pressure, by Sigmund Brouwer

absolute_pressure_coverThis book review is part of series of reviews written by students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their 7th grade English classes.

Seeing color is normal, but what Ian does is not; he feels it. Whenever something touches certain spots on his body, a color fills his vision, but that’s not all; when he sees a particular girl’s face, he tastes blackberries. Ian has an odd, rare (1 in 2000), and very real condition called synesthesia, the joining of two senses. Interesting details like this help to make Absolute Pressure, by Sigmund Brouwer, an entertaining book. Sigmund Brouwer is a well-known writer and though he focuses mainly on children’s books, he has numerous adult books as well. His earliest books date at about 1990, and he has sold over 3 million copies of his books total. Absolute Pressure was written in 2009.

For Ian, a 17-year-old boy, scuba diving is his life. So every year he comes to Key West to stay with his uncle, Uncle Gord, who owns a dive shop there. Ian is and intelligent caring boy, who is calm under pressure, which you have to be while scuba diving. Because if you panic, you don’t think, and if you don’t think, you make mistakes, which can kill you. Ian has learned to live with his synesthesia and the fact that his dad left him.

So, Uncle Gord kind of took over the fatherly position for Ian, but as said by Ian, “Uncle Gord was more like an army sergeant than a father” (34). Uncle Gord is a tough man, but he cares for Ian. Things get complicated though what with Uncle Gord’s business declining and him not having enough money to keep the shop running for long.

One of the dive shop employees is Judd Warner. Judd is a fairly big, strong, and slightly secretive man. Judd has only worked in the dive shop for a few months. So it was surprising to me that he got to stick around while Uncle Gord laid off Ian and the other employee, Sherri.

I loved the plot of this story; it was very interesting and engaging. An important part was that Ian persuaded Judd to let him dive down to place a “treasure chest” for people to look for to increase business. He was on his way up from hiding the chest and the pressure valve breaks on his tank… He can’t control the air and has to swim as fast as he can up to the surface over 90 feet above him, a dangerous risk. Later, the thing that bothers him most is that valves like these don’t just break; upon further examination, he finds that someone had tampered with the valve. This could have killed him if he had not been outside of the wreck in which he hid the chest. If you want to find out who did it and why, you need to read the book.

This all takes place in Key West, the west most island of the Florida Keys. Ian describes it as “Where people can got to escape and live without being asked questions about their lives. Live-and-live kind of place” (68). It’s a fairly small city, with warm weather. Parts of it are busy and loud, while parts of it are quiet and peaceful.

I liked this book because of the plot. It was a page-turner in more than one way. Firstly, it had a plot that had me want to read just a bit further every time I put it down. Secondly, the book was below my reading level, I think so it was easy to read and went quickly. I had a tough time finding new vocab words, but I think you should read it just for fun, regardless of assignments.

-Jadie P., 7th grade

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