Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher Usborne in exchange for an honest review. However, this fact does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
One minute Eddie was there. And the next he was gone.
Five years on, and it’s Elsie who’s lost. All she knows is the pain she feels. Pain that her twin Eddie’s body has never been found after that day on the beach.
Then she meets Tay; confident, cool and addicted to free-diving. He says it’s too dangerous for her to join; it’s too dark, too scary, too deep. But what does he know?
He doesn’t know that being underwater is the only time Elsie doesn’t ache for her brother. That diving gives her flashbacks. And that uncovering the secrets of that day is the only way for Elsie to start breathing again.
Ever since I heard of this book I’ve wanted to read it because the summary sounded intriguing and I just loved the sound of this novel.
I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy stories that feature unreliable narrators. I love such narrators so much because you can’t really trust them, but at the same time you still sympathize with them. Besides, I love solving mysteries and guessing what really happened, and that’s why The Art of Not Breathing sounded so appealing to me in the first place.
The Art of Not Breathing is, however, so much more than just a mystery story. It’s a dark tale about grief, secrets, family dysfunction and ultimately, denial. This book deals with some heavy topics such as anorexia, bullying, mental illness and adultery. Thus, The Art of Not Breathing is not your typical fluffy contemporary romance (as the cover might suggest), but rather a gloomy story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
Elsie was a relatable protagonist and I really felt for her and her family. The author did a great job portraying Elsie’s grief and the aftermath of her twin’s death. Her family has a lot of issues and therefore, there were several emotional moments in this novel that were very powerful.
The romance in this novel was cute, but not too overwhelming since The Art of Not Breathing deals with more important matters.
When Elsie gets to know Tay she soon begins to love free-diving because being underwater gives her flashbacks. And Elsie believes that these flashbacks might lead her to the truth, she thinks that she will finally uncover the secrets surrounding her twin’s death. And although I loved to read about these flashbacks (because I wanted to uncover these secrets just as much as Elsie), I still found that Elsie was very reckless and was doing a very dangerous thing. Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading about free-diving because I have never read books about this sport before.
All in all The Art of Not Breathing was an emotional and suspenseful novel featuring some very realistic and well-drawn protagonists. As I mentioned above, the book deals with some heavy issues and has some shocking twists in store for you. Therefore, I really recommend this book to everyone who enjoys YA psychological thrillers and mysteries.
4 out 5 stars
Note: I would like to thank Usborne Publishing for sending me this great book for review!