Alexander, Sarah The Art of Not Breathing, 278 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $17.99 Language: R (33 swears, 14 ‘f’) Mature content: R (sex, nudity, graphic language, severe self-harm, drinking, suicide, extreme bullying, PTSD, delusions brought on from grief, parental abuse and graphic depictions of death) Violence: PG-13 (fighting and traumatic death)
Elsie’s twin brother drowned in the sea five years ago, and her family has never been the same. Elsie is obsessed with discovering her blocked memories of that day and getting all the dark secrets her family has been keeping into the light. With the help of sweet free diver Tate and her older brother Dillon, she may be able to face the ocean and finally say goodbye to her twin once and for all.
The Art of Not Breathing is a very gritty YA contemporary with strong content that makes it feel more New Adult to be honest, though I can think of no reason for all the gratuitousness to take place. It does nothing to further the plot or the character development. I started this novel enthralled by the unique writing and the deep emotional pull of the story line, but ended it sort of baffled. The characters actions are erratic and nonsensical. You can’t get to know them because they have nothing concrete about themselves besides the issues that they face. Lastly, this book simply suffers from too many themes in too little pages. The topics discussed in this novel were not handled in a way I could appreciate and I can’t see the benefit in teens reading this story excepting its perfectly unpretentious realness.
HS- OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: Jewels DiSalvo