Friday, September 30, 2016

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander (Review)

YA, Contemporay
Publication Date:April 26, 2016
Published By:  HMH Books for Young Readers

Review copy:ARC from Raincoast for honest review
Buy it:
Amazon ~ B&N ~ Chapters 

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.

Another question spins around my mind.  Does Tay know about Eddie?  Would it be so bad if he did know? Yes, I answer myself.  Because if Tay knows about Eddie, then he will see me as only half a person.  I want to be enough for someone just on my own.
"That's the beauty of it," Tay says.
"I don't need to talk about it.  It's just something I do, like breathing."
I grin.  "You mean it's like not breathing."
He smiles slowly at me, like he's just realizing something.  "You're right.  And I'm glad I get to not breathe with you."
I picture my life in the future.  When Dillon has starved himself to death, I'll have let two brothers die.  Dad will be long gone, and that just leaves me with Mum.  Every day will be therapy day.

  The Art of Not Breathing was breathtakingly beautiful and tragic.  It' the type of contemporary that you start and lose yourself in.  You can feel the emotions and see the characters, with every chapter both of these elements changing or growing in intensity.  There is a tempo that this book set, bringing depth to the characters and a realistic feel to the entire plot.  For a book that I walked into with no real expectations, I for sure got more than I had anticipated. 

  What I think I loved so much about this book, was its inability to fall in line with other books of this sort.  I am not saying that I have a thing against the books that are about loss, and yet they find a way to have the life they wanted, and find the love of their life that moves heaven and earth to be with them.  This is what I would call realistic in the sense that everything just kept falling apart.  You don't always have that person you can go to, and even if you do sometimes it feels like you can't.  The was a tragic note throughout the book that pulled at my heart, and when it wasn't tragic it was this sad pretty thing.  There wasn't a lot of complexity to the plot, and yet somehow it managed to easily snare my attention and affection almost right from the start.

  Elsie is not the popular girl, or the unremarkable beauty that has no idea how beautiful and extraordinary she is.  Basically I loved Elise because she was ordinary and though she may not have enjoyed being on the outside, that was where she seemed to fit.  There is not a moment throughout this read though that she was not growing.  This is a girl that blames herself for losing her brother, gains weight because she believes she now eats for both her dead brother and herself and sees things the way no one else seems to.  This is her way of coping, of not moving on but merely living.  It is only when she starts to take steps in a direction that should have never been considered, that she starts to move forward and leave her life of living standing still.  There is no one moment that she "changes," but a series of moments and problems that encourage and push her to finally move, finally become more than she felt.  I cannot sign enough praises for this girl and her ordinary life that maybe I couldn't relate to, but I could feel for.

  Honestly, though there was a romantic interest it was far from what mattered in this read.  Well, it did matter but in its own way, not in the traditional way.  Elise needed Tay to grow, and realise she was more than the invisible "fat girl."  This wasn't just because he was there, but also because he wasn't.  I enjoyed the realistic nature of their relationship, as well as the complexity of it.  They weren't the couple everyone envied.  Heck, next to no one knew about them.  I want to say so much more but the problem is I really feel that this is a less is more type of situation.  So much about this relationship changed the dynamic throughout the book, so to explain it would be to ruin everything for you.  Just know that nothing was "typical," and it wasn't a love story by a long shot.

  Alexander crafted and beautiful, unique and well fleshed out novel.  It didn't lack character and I would have to say that the plot was wonderfully original.  I can't say that it was perfect or that no points were matched to others , but I loved that it felt real.  The Art of Not Breathing is the perfect read for someone that wants a contemporary read, with real feelings and real characters.

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