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How to Breathe Underwater

Review

How to Breathe Underwater

Kate is a girl with her life on track. She’s a state winning swimmer, with amazing potential for college. Her dad is her supportive coach, always pushing her to do more. Her best friend is with her every step of the way, and everything seems perfect --- until her father is found cheating on her mother in front of the entire swim team. In order to start over, Kate and her mother move to Portland, leaving her swim team, father, best friend and entire life behind. Luckily, she meets Michael, the cute boy from across the hall, who seems to be the only one without any expectations of her. As they grow closer, through swim lessons and ice cream dates, she finally feels happy again, until she learns that Michael has a girlfriend. With swimming, the one thing that used to always make her happy, and her family life becoming more and more twisted, will Kate be able to find a way to be happy? Or will she continue to sink until she can barely stay afloat.

"HOW TO BREATHE UNDERWATER...is magic, filled the high-energy drama, love and heartbreak of teen life. The characters in this book were to die for, so real and relatable..."

HOW TO BREATHE UNDERWATER, debut novel from author Vicky Skinner is magic, filled the high-energy drama, love and heartbreak of teen life. The characters in this book were to die for, so real and relatable, I felt as if I knew them myself. Michael is adorable, both kind and gorgeous, with just the right dash of daring. Every interaction between Kate and Michael was enchanting, and I loved reading them. Additionally the family dynamics are both terribly sad and beautiful at the same time. Kate’s sister, Lily, always added a bit of humor, and provided an extra layer to Kate’s already broken life that made me more attached and hoping for Kate’s eventual success. Most of all, I love to root for a protagonist, and I had no problem doing that with Kate. Her struggle over swimming, trying to fit in at her new school, relationship with her family and overall desire to do what’s right make her the perfect main character.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel, was the relation to swimming. YA novels often inaccurately portray what lives of high school athletes can be like. HOW TO BREATHE UNDERWATER had no problem demonstrating the pressure and intensity that teenagers sometimes deal with through Kate and her best friend, among some of the other swimmers. Beyond that, I loved reading any scene where she was swimming, as the passion and excitement in her could be felt through the pages and straight into me.

As much as I enjoyed the novel, there were a few times where the book felt predictable and a bit rushed. At the beginning of the book, events would move on quickly with lack of purpose, leaving hints that felt to be a bit obvious foreshadowing. Almost everything that was meant to be a surprise, or big twist in the book felt predictable, which I didn’t enjoy as much, but that didn’t lessen the emotional impact of each event. Even if I knew what was coming, Skinners writing makes every experience come alive, and I felt every up and down like it was happening in front of me.

Skinner brings an amazing read for any fan of YA novels related to sports, or those who love a good realistic fiction book. With love, loss and the battle of high school, HOW TO BREATHE UNDERWATER is a necessary novel to anyone’s TBR list today.

Reviewed by Jessica K., Teen Board Member on September 12, 2018

How to Breathe Underwater
by Vicky Skinner