The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander


23203977Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Pages: 288

Published by HMH Books



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.

I feel like I’m on a roll and a bad one, like the kind that sends you careening off the edge of a cliff. HA! Get it? Inside joke for those who read it, there are moments of jumping off a cliff, har har har…

I did not like this story at all, although I finished it because it was a smaller sized book, I did not enjoy any of it. Maybe it’s because I’m 29 years old and I just don’t get 16-year-olds these days, eh?

Elsie is our main character, she’s a 16-year-old from Scotland and once upon a time had a twin brother, Eddie, who was born a few minutes later than Elsie. Something went wrong during his birth and he wasn’t able to breathe, which caused some disorders to come forward. As such, Eddie was the child who became favored by the family, he was to be babied and the like. Often everything was about Eddie. Dillon is the eldest and as we see later, he has also suffered.

When Elsie and Eddie are 11, he winds up drowning at the beach one day. The family at this point is just beginning to be as messed up as we find it to be later on. There is so much more that happens at the beach.

The story begins here, Elsie still has so many questions in regard to her brother’s death and that day in particular. Well, Elsie meets Tay MacKenzie who is a bad boy, who happens to be into free-diving. Funny, for a girl who was afraid of the water because of what happened in it years ago, she takes a flying leap from a cliff into the water and nearly drowns herself. She discovers she has flashbacks here which are confusing if you aren’t paying attention because they will pop up out of nowhere and fairly blend in with the rest.

Yeah, the characters are pretty flat and I wasn’t keen on them, they were unlikable and yeah the general idea about them may have been a little fascinating, the story, in general, may have been, but I felt little to no chemistry with Elsie. I couldn’t feel bad for her because she was one dimensional. There were so personal issues in it for me, too. Like for the fact this seems to be geared toward the young aspect of young adult. Like, we’re talking 13-16. I would not let my daughter read this book. It has topics on sex, drugs, alcohol, murder, smoking, anorexia, and affairs. Ummm… kind of heavy topics for a young crowd.

I absolutely finished it to the very end, but even the end I felt no closure. Not to mention how messed up the family becomes toward the last quarter of the book. I ended the book feeling horrible for many reasons, but it was really just a sad, dissatisfying read.


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