Cover Image: Breath Like Water

Breath Like Water

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. There was something missing for this to be a perfect book. I can't quite put my finger on it but just felt like something was lacking. Besides that interesting read
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DNF -did not finish. I decided not to keep reading this novel because I did not connect with the writing and plot. Thank you, netgalley and publisher for the early copy.
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I think I would’ve enjoyed this book more if I was a swimmer or just an athlete in general. I played sports as a child and teenager but just for fun and I never thought I would play them long term so I couldn’t relate to that aspect! Besides that the story was great and I think people that understand the high stakes of sports would enjoy it more!
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Thank you so much for allowing me to read and review your titles.
I do appreciate it and continue to review books that I get the chance to read.
Thanks again!
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First of all, thanks to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for approving my request and sending me an eARC in exchange for a honest review.
You have to know English isn’t my first language, so feel free to correct me if I make some mistakes while writing this review.

Real rating: 3,5 stars. 

TRIGGER WARNING: anxiety, depression, mental illness, self-harm (mentioned), suicidal thoughts.
Susannah has loved swimming and the pool since she was seven and she was fourteen when she won gold at the world championships. Everyone was expecting great things from her, a sparkling career and even more brilliant results, but two years later her career is on the brink of collapsing, her fast times gone - the growth and changes due to adolescence have altered her body in form. and dynamics and Susannah doesn't feel comfortable in those curves that make her feel heavy and not good enough like the swimmer she once was. She also feels like she let down all the expectations her former Olympic champion coach and herself had in mind.

After a bad run in a competition which resulted in a disqualification not only for her, but also for the three swimmers in the team with her, and humiliated in front of everyone by her coach Dave - who now no longer seems to care about her and believe in her future as a winning swimmer - Susannah wonders if the dream of going to the Olympics is destined to remain unfulfilled. She still finds herself wondering if it's worth it and why she keeps doing it - but swimming is always the thing she loves the most in the world.

During the next practice, Susannah discovers that the cute boy who witnessed her public humiliation is now part of the team and that Dave has hired a new assistant coach, Beth.
But Susannah, stubborn and reluctant to change, is determined to avoid both Harry and Beth - Harry because he seems to read into her and see her every ambition and fear and Beth for some sort of misplaced loyalty to Dave.

But what if it was just letting Harry into her life and switching coaches that could change Susannah's life and career?

The start with this book was good - I had read the first 15% in just one afternoon. What made me turn my nose up afterwards was the fact that most of the moments when Susannah and Harry first become friends and then something more happens off the page and is presented to us as a fait accompli without having seen enough of the development - this vaguely gave me the feeling of having read an instalove. By that, I don't mean anything bad: Susannah and Harry are cute together, exactly what they need at that moment, but everything focuses so much on the action in the pool during training and competitions that the story gets lost in other aspects - and sometimes I didn't feel emotionally involved as I had hoped.

Susannah is fundamentally selfish, totally focused on herself and on the dream of joining the Olympic team, so very often she doesn't even notice what's going on around her - but we can't even blame her because she knows what she has to give up if she wants to achieve her goal and her family is not as rich as her friends', so her parents undergo all kinds of sacrifices to make her dream come true. Making it to the Olympics would repay them for everything they've always done for her.

Though reluctant to let Harry into her life for fear of distraction, Susannah still can't stay away from him and Harry is the only person she can confide in about her fears and overwhelming fear of failure - while she can't say that to her parents for fear of disappointing them and not even to her friends, who still remain the competition at the end of the day.
And it is only when Harry finally opens up to her and confides his problems that Susannah will understand how much selfish she has been up to that point - she will understand that there are things that need to be dealt with alone, but others that we need help with from someone and there's no shame in asking for help.

"Breath Like Water" is a novel that focuses a lot on sport, on friendships that still remain the competition to be faced at a certain point, on the passion and tenacity it takes to move forward and not give up even in the face of insurmountable unexpected events and on knowing when instead it's the case to leave because what you do no longer brings you joy. It also talks about anxiety and mental illness, how important therapy and having people around you who love and support you are.

Despite the hint of instalove, given what is at stake, I really appreciated that the author hasn't chosen the easy path, but has chosen to show the reality of adolescent relationships that are still immature or that happened at the wrong time, the inevitability failure at some point and the strength to get up and get back into the game even when dreams seem even less within our reach than they were before - the need to heal, perhaps and/or especially alone, before being ready to bear the emotional weight of another person.

Despite a few flaws, I liked the story: it has a strong message within of taking care of yourself both physically and mentally and not giving up on fighting to make your dreams come true - failure doesn't have to be the end of something, but the chance to try again and do better.
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The premise for this novel sounds terrific. It is based around our protagonist, a teenage swimmer who is in the running for an eventual Olympic team spot. Then, puberty hits. As with many sports involving teen girls, bodily changes, make a world of difference in success. So think girls' gymnastics, where the girls are incredible before puberty and ANY normal bodily growth that changes their center of gravity. Skills or speed that may have been possible when in a youthful/childlike body, these things are more attainable than later. In addition to teenage growth and changes, she also develops a romantic interest in a fellow swimmer. 
The characters are great but the plot is a bit lagging. Maybe a little extra editing or maybe I am just the wrong audience for this.
Good read for the young crowd.
#BreathLikeWater #NetGalley #HarlequinTEEN #InkyardPress
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*Thanks to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the complimentary copy for my honest review*

This wasn't a bad book, just a little underwhelming for me.  I read this book primarily in one sitting, not because I was hooked and couldn't put it down, but I kept waiting for something to happen.  The characters were fine, I especially loved Harry, but other than that I didn't really care for this one.
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Susannah Ramos was once a world champion swimmer. But as puberty hit and her body changed, she lost the speed that once came so naturally. A new coach could help her turn it back around. Or a romance with a new team member could distract her and steal the focus she needs to finally win again. 

This book was a real roller coaster of emotions. The good and the bad kept rolling at Susannah. Every time she seemed to be conquering one challenge, another would rear its ugly head. The success of the book, however, comes from watching Susannah's character develop and mature in spite of (or because of?) all the tough decisions she needs to make and act on.

Overall, I'd give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. Susannah wasn't a very likable character, but she tried. Her romantic interest was also hit or miss for me. The storyline was believable and teen angst-y. The swimming competition parts also felt sincere.
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Actual rating is more like 3.5 ⭐️ But raised up because of the solid and inspiring message that this story told. 

I am not the biggest fan of contemporary YA because I just know there will be instalove, and sure enough it felt like that’s exactly what happened here. However the relationship was extremely well fleshed out and the dynamics between the characters were raw. 

I liked how dedicated and focused our MC was and how much she grew over time. I like the latinx, mental health, and lgbtq representation. All of these elements were deftly handled and really made the second half of the book that much better. If there are only a handful of contemporary YA books out there that I like, then this is one of them.
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Participated in the blog tour a few months back, added it to my goodreads, and also mentioned it on the Hey YA podcast! Thanks again for including me in the tour.
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**4.5 stars**
Okay, so this was really unexpected. It is young adult but it deals a lot with serious issues, including mental health. I thought the writing was perfect. The wording and descriptions were so detailed. It was almost poetic in parts. It had a lot of good lessons in there, about trying to find who you are and what you want out of life. I had a little bit of difficulty relating to the characters, but other than that, this was really well done. I’ll be looking for more books by this author. 

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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this was an enjoyable read, the characters were great and I really enjoyed the storyline in the book.
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I read a LOT of books about swimmers this summer but this one not only gave us a great look into the life of a swimmer in an athletic sense, but it dove into some tough topics. 

A surprisingly good YA read with a lot of heart, I can’t believe it took me so long to pick this one up! 4.5 stars from me!
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Breath Like Water is a bit sadder than my typical picks, definitely a read on the heavier side, though not one that's endlessly depressing. However, it captured me right from the start, and I found myself very invested in this tale that feels realistic and beautiful in its messiness.

Susannah's an Olympic hopeful, along with hundreds of other swimmers. When she was younger, it looked like she would be the next swimming phenom, but then puberty hit, leaving her with a completely different body that's slower in the water. Still, Susannah's stubborn as all hell, and she's working as hard as she possibly can to get back to where she was. I wish I had a tenth of her motivation.

The book gets into coaching methods a lot, shown in the dichotomy between the head coach, a guy who has coached a bunch of Olympians, and an assistant coach with new ideas. Initially, Susannah does not want to switch to the new female coach, because she feels like it would mean she's less than, but ultimately she realizes that the coach's different ideas work much better for her than Coach Dave's yelling and judgment. This is effective commentary on tradition in sports, as well as the emotional abuse that's considered necessary by many for coaching. I do wish there had been more focus on the sexism, but there are hints of it.

As you might expect, Susannah's torn between her focus on swimming and her increasingly strong feelings for a new team member, Harry. This is a familiar plot line, but I did like the way things happened here. I like how much thought Susannah put into everything, perhaps too much, which is relatable. She considers everything in a very mature way. I also like that the relationship, despite what the coaches might think, really was never the problem; that felt like a subtle trope twist to me. Aside from one notable confrontation, they really were both so supportive of one another's dreams, which I thought was pretty awesome.

The mental health rep definitely had me in my feels. I'm iffy about calling this a spoiler, but just in case some people would prefer not to know the details, I'm tagging it. [It was clear to me very early on that Harry was dealing with depression, but he doesn't reveal his diagnosis for a while. He's bipolar, and, even with meds and therapy, it's tough to manage. This really got to me, because I have a friend who goes through similar periods of really needing in-patient treatment to cope, and it's tough but also so great to see that shown here in a positive light. This book is pro-therapy and meds for those who need them, and I loved how much that was not all that Harry was about. (hide spoiler)]

Though I do not feel qualified to comment on the Latinx rep, I did notice that there wasn't much about the fact that Susannah is Latinx. There are references, when we're introduced to the fact that she and Amber, her bestie who is Black, bonded because they're pretty much the only non-white people on the team. There are references here to the difficulties they face, but nothing really comes up about that in the book. There's another reference at the end, in a speech given by her mother before the trials, but that's about it.

When I call this book messy, it's not that I mean it's sloppy. It's the emotions that are messy, and nothing unravels in that perfect way things do in a fluffier sort of book. Don't get me wrong: I love that feeling. But it's nice on occasion to read a book that feels very realistic without depressing the bejeesus out of me. There's just something about the way this book wraps up that embraces the way that people are complex and messy, but it makes it feel like a really great thing. [Usually I'm all about my happy endings, but I like here that Harry needed years to work on his mental health before they could maybe be together after the book ends, and I like that Susannah really might not ever make the Olympics. There's beauty and hope here, but there's also a constant reminder that life is hard, and sometimes the timing isn't right or things don't work out. (hide spoiler)]

This isn't the sort of book I'm always in the mood for, but it hit me at a really good time. The voice and the emotions really hit me in the heart space. I'd recommend this to readers who enjoyed Emery Lord's When We Collided particularly, because thematically and in terms of tone, this reminded me of that (though they are not similar otherwise).
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I love YA books even though I am no longer a young adult, and this was no exception. I felt like it tackled hard issues that it seems many teens are going through today, in a really attainable and approachable way. Really enjoyed it.
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At first, I thought this story would focus only on Susannah and her struggles with coaches, parents, expectations and results as she works toward her own personal bests in swimming. And, there is plenty of that in this story - told in a rather cyclical pattern that mimics (and feels) very much like lap swim training.  But, the story quickly becomes so much more as Susannah meets another swimmer, Harry, who becomes her everything as they both battle injuries, expectations, issues from pressure and isolation, and fears about meeting (or failing to meet) their goals. 

Gentle and unassuming, the friendship and support that they get from one another quickly blossoms into more: a love that is far more mature than their ages or experience would suggest. With insets of training routines, the ups and downs of finding a goal when very young and simply focusing on it, perhaps to the detriment of other things. The determination and work-ethic involved, and the little jealousies and pitfalls that happen when milestones are reached, perhaps unevenly. 

What emerges from all of the emotions, the struggles and the dramas is the ability to put lessons learned in one place (the pool) to work in other aspects of your life: learning to let go and break free of the expected as you push onward to the next hoped for goal.  A lovely read that is nuanced, deep and emotionally captivating as the issues the two discover, and the way they support each other, allows them to rediscover their own love for swimming, and for themselves. 

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

Review first appeared at <a href=”” > <a> I am, Indeed </a>
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I like watching the Olympic swim meets as much as the next person and angsty teen romance is kind of why I read this genre, lol! That being said, I enjoyed this one but I wasn't expecting the bittersweet ending.  Or the grueling real life challenges of those Olympic hopefuls. It turned out to be a bit of a downer for me.

So although the beginning and the middle where great for reeling me in, keeping me interested and giving me characters to really root for, the end left me feeling deflated. 

I'm not one that seeks out realism in my reads. I prefer uplifting, inspiring and generally a happy - feel good ending. Thats not what this book is all about. 

The risky and delicate subjects that are brought up in Breathe Like Water were commendable and sheds some much needed light on mental health and how to seek help but I wish it hadn't been so rushed. It was like pulling teeth to get to the big secret but then once it's out, things quickly spiral out of control and then it's over. Fast forward to  two years and we're left with a teaser of what could be. 

I know this book with resonate with a different reader group and although not a favorite, I did like the positive lessons learned between Susie and Harry. Harry is hands down my favorite character and wish he had gotten his own POV just because I found him the most relatable/likable of the two MCs.
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Thanks NetGalley for the preview! 

I loved this book! Susannah is a strong, determined and flawed female athlete.  She created a good role model who still has her own problems.  Harry begins as the strong, hot, popular guy and reveals a huge vulnerable side.   Watching these two characters bounce off of one another as they grow and change was so exciting.  I could not put this book down! Yes they are both selfish teens at times but that makes them human and relatable.  I also would like to slap Dave!!
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What a beautiful story. This book dealt with some heavy topics - mental illness, first loves, self confidence and verbal abuse from a coach. I adored both of the main characters and my heart broke as I read about their struggles. The author did balance the heaviness with plenty of light, sweet dialogue, supportive families and friends (I don’t like really heavy/sad books so this was good for me). The writing was engaging and you will love and cheer for these characters.
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This book was terrific. It was a moving story of a girl who just wants to swim and reach the Olympics and finds out what is truly important in life.
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