The Art of Not Breathing - Teen Fiction From Sarah Alexander

The Art of Not Breathing is a new debut novel from Sarah Alexander. Bottom line for me, I liked it, but boy did I not like the parents and that made some sections tough to read.

Since her twin brother disappeared five years ago, Elsie Main struggles with blame and a family that's falling apart. She cannot remember everything that happened, but she knows even though her brother's body was never recovered, it's believed he drowned. Since that day, Elsie's parents seem unable to function and her older brother is no better.

After spending another birthday with her parents grieving her twin and practically ignoring her, Elsie winds up at the harbor where she meets a mysterious teen boy, Tay. Her private refuge within the boathouse has been discovered, but her friendship with Tay seems worth it, especially since he's offered to teacher her the art of freediving. Freediving seems like Elsie's best chance to get back into the water and find out what really happened to Eddie.

So many characters in this book didn't seem to have a clue. I get the parents were grieving, but the fact that they turned a blind eye to their two living children seriously ticked me off. Every time the story cut back to the family dysfunction, I became more and more annoyed. Sarah Alexander definitely created fully developed characters that made you feel something, even if it was hatred.

Along the way, the characters continue through their stages of grief, delving into first relationships, and then there's the mystery of what really happened to Eddie on that fateful day. It ends up being an intriguing story with real emotional issues tackled during what is essentially a pretty poignant coming-of-age story.

The Art of Not Breathing is due out until April 26th from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


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