Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.
Alexander debuts with a raw and sensitive novel about loss. During the five years since Elsie's twin brother, Eddie, drowned in the North Sea off Scotland's Black Isle, Elsie and her family have been doing everything they can to escape reality: Elsie's mother drinks, her father is never home, older brother Dillon develops an eating disorder, and Elsie isolates herself. Elsie also endlessly relives the day Eddie died, wondering what more she could have done, until she meets Tay McKenzie. He teaches Elsie to freedive (diving without a breathing apparatus), and Elsie begins to remember the "few black spots" of that day when she is underwater. The more Elsie recalls, the more she realizes that her family and friends have been hiding secrets. Alexander movingly traces the motions of family members trying to piece their lives back together while dealing with personal demons. Candidly written and balanced by notes of humor throughout, Elsie's journey to find the truth shows just how far she's willing to go to bring her family back from the depths of tragedy. Ages 14 up.
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Raw, beautiful, breathtaking...
THE ART OF NOT BREATHING by Sarah Alexander is a raw & unique story about a 16 year old girl coping with the loss of her twin brother. Each family member deals with their loss & guilt in their own way. Watching these characters fall apart and put themselves back together is absolutely breathtaking.
Being a diver myself, I appreciated the ways in which the author used diving as a form of therapy & a way for Elsie to find a new lease on life. There’s something very freeing about being underwater–it allows you to focus on the world around you and free your mind from the stress of everyday life.
The characters were well-developed, the writing was beautiful, simple & straightforward, and the arc was well laid out. Highly recommend.