Cover Image: Breathing Underwater

Breathing Underwater

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Member Reviews

This book was really as heavy hitting on the emotions as it appeared it would be at first glance. I think that MG books that include diversity are just underrated, in this case this book gave spotlight to depression, focusing on mental health and loving someone who has depression. Our protagonist is this wonderfully loving younger sister, she’s not perfect by any means but her love for Ruth is not ‘soured’ because Ruth has depression and I think a lot of times it’s so easy to show only the darker side of things.

Allen instead shows the hope that Olivia has that she can do something to make her sister smile again. It’s more than that though, it’s that Olivia loves Ruth just as much on her very bad days as on her good days, that she knows that there will be days that she cannot help and that does not diminish her love.

The road trip these sisters take with their cousins sets out to be a recreation of one of her most treasured memories with her sister. But Olivia learns to be flexible and instead shares in different yet no less impactful experiences with her sister and the road trip doesn’t magically cure anything either. They have their highs and lows and the bond between them was very well written.

A book doesn’t need a magic fix and Allen showing that no matter what some times things will not be helped is just as important to impart onto young readers.

5/5 Cups of coffee from me for this absolutely beautiful and slightly heartbreaking MG book that comes out tomorrow! Thank you so much to Xpresso Tours, the publisher, and NetGalley for an eARC of this in exchange for my honest review as part of the tour.
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As someone with depression, this book represents it in such a great especially for young readers where they will be able to relate and understand. More importantly, they’ll know that there is no “normal” way to feel or act.

I found the characters to be realistic in their depictions as both teenagers and struggling with mental health.

As someone with ADHD also, I also often just forget to listen to music. But, I always, always find it helps me so much when I do remember. Also, as a photographer, it’s so much fun to be able to relate to a character so much.

And, of course, I have to mention the cover. It’s beautiful and what drew my attention especially as I don’t read many middle-grade books. I’m an avid scuba diver and I loved it for that underwater aspect but also what “breathing underwater” symbolizes because often when I’m in a depressive slump or an anxiety attack –– it feels exactly like I’m trying to breathe underwater, without my scuba equipment of course.
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Olivia is on a cross country trip with her older sister, Ruth, her aunt and uncle with her amazing new camera at her side. Their ultimate destination is San Diego, the city Olivia and Ruth left behind three years ago when they moved to Tennessee.  During those three years, Ruth’s depression has worsened, and Olivia is determined to use this trip to help her sister find her old self.

Your heart will go out to all of the characters in this story. Olivia loves her sister so much and will do anything to prevent Ruth from falling into THE PIT, which frequently happens on her bad days. This means Olivia puts tremendous pressure on herself to anticipate Ruth’s needs (is she eating properly, is she sleeping) and to constantly be cheerful and positive. Every once in a while, we get a glimpse of the real Ruth Olivia misses so much; the music lover who constantly writes songs, longs to become a composer and is a great big sister. Unfortunately, her depression often causes her to instead take out her frustrations and darkness on Olivia, which breaks Olivia’s heart. Luckily, Oliva’s late night talks with her Uncle Eddie help her to better understand Ruth and to gain confidence and courage in her quest to help Ruth. He especially helps her when he shares his belief that Olivia’s superpower is finding neat, pretty things to make people happy or excited. Finally, Aunt Ellie is amazingly patient and understanding of both Ruth’s depression and Olivia’s desperation to make Ruth happy again. 

This is such a powerful story. It offers comfort, hope and understanding to middle graders who are living with someone suffering from depression. Oftentimes that middle grader may wonder if, despite all they try to do to support their family member, if they really matter, just as Olivia wondered about Ruth. Ruth’s reply to Olivia was so comforting, “you’re no-filter free person.” In other words, Ruth knows Olivia will always love her, even during Ruth’s darkest days.  This offers understanding and encouragement to the middle grade readers about their struggling family member.

This is a must buy for middle school libraries and counselor’s book shelves. It’s available 3.30. Preorder it now!!
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With care, feeling and depth, this book dives into the problems of depression and the wonders of sisterly love.

Olivia has gotten everything ready for the trip with her aunt and uncle in the RV back to their old 'home' in California. But it's not just the usual vacation joy that's got her wound up. Olivia's older sister suffers from depression, and Olivia hopes the trip will remind her of some of the joys of life. Not only has Olivia prepared a travel pirate hunt similar to the one her sister made for her years ago when they moved, but she wants to end it by digging up a treasure they buried together before the move. Olivia's determined and can only hope her plan succeeds.

This book holds heart. Tons of it. Olivia is a very special girl, her uncle says...has a talent for finding little things which will cheer a person up. She's extremely empathetic and holds her sister in very high regard without the slightest bit of ill thoughts about her sister's depression. But then, all the characters in this book are tuned in with love and care, never crossing borders or pushing her sister too far. Their concern is inspiring and wholesome in every way.

Olivia also packs personality. She has a carefree spirit and a playful manner, which makes her very fitting to the age group. Of course, she grows concerned and thinks about many things, but there are little quirks and whimsical thoughts, which keep her rooted into the age group. The idea of a pirate treasure hunt is something which wins over, and her interest for photography with dreams of making the perfect photos adds just the right amount of interesting to her personality. She's simply a fun character.

The story weaves around depression heavily. Olivia's sister's actions and moods are never over the top but play along with quite subtleness and small snarky comments. But it's still obvious through tiny glimpses that she's the same caring person as Olivia knows and loves, and this adds the needed shine of hope. While I appreciate the depth and really enjoyed getting to know the characters, this heavy concentration on thoughts did slow down the pacing at times. During the first twenty-five percent of the tale, nothing really happens outside of the beginning miles of their RV trip. The rest spins around Olivia's constant watch of her sister, thoughts of her photos and hoping her hunt works. I did find my self skipping sentences more and more often until things moved along a bit quicker. The upper end of middle grader readers will appreciate this one more than the younger side (up age 11 or so).

This one full points on diving deep and helping readers to understand depression much better with characters which are hard not to love.
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This is one of the best books I have read this year, and, although I did keep in mind my twelve-thirteen year-old students when I read it, it can and it should be read by people of any age. The way Sarah Allen captured what it's like to live and love a family member suffering from depression is so poignant and authentic. She also managed to do so much more and that is to show what it's like to grow into yourself and begin to own your own feelings, realise that the different ways in which we see the world create it's beauty.

Thirteen year old Olivia, who is passionate about photography, and her older sister Ruth are going on a road trip with their parents' friends in an RV. Olivia would like this trip to become a Treasure Hunt that would recreate the hunt she and Ruth did in the past and remind them of happier times. Olivia tries so hard to be upbeat and keep her complex feelings under control not to upset Ruth or worry their mum. She  is trying to understand her own limits (influence over other people's choices, responsibility, anger, frustration, creativity ) and this mysterious thing called sisterly love.
It is difficult to imagine a better setting for a coming of age/self-discovery story than a road trip. Olivia is a talented photographer and she has a good eye for anything unusual: an angle that suddenly makes her see an ordinary object in a different light, a special detail that helps you understand the meaning of a place at a deeper level, a connection which isn't obvious unless you've had a similar experience yourself. Ruth is musical - on their treasure hunts she used to come up with perfect playlists- and Olivia comes up with a heartwarming idea- she adds song title captions to her snaps, captions that bring together the sisters' unique ways of seeing the world and creates a perfect fusion that is so meaningful for both of them.

The book is written from Olivia's point of view and Sarah Allen manages to keep the first person narrative exactly that. Olivia has to rely heavily on her powers of observation to see the signs of Ruth having a downturn, because she is trying to do everything possible to make her sister feel better. Even a hint of smile on Ruth's face can make Olivia happy. There isn't a hint of omniscience that so often creeps into first person narratives. No, Olivia has to work out things on her own. She really doesn't know what her sister or her mum thinks, she has to rely on their words or their body language, or take a guess, and this is one of the things that make this book so authentic. It doesn't limit your ability to relate to other characters, though. 

 I wish I could interview Sarah Allen just to get a glimpse into her creative process and how she came up with this perfect ending. I felt I became Olivia for a brief moment- my heart was full of emotions I couldn't express with words, but I had a picture in my mind that I will treasure.
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I read this as part of the blog tour hosted by Xpresso Tours. Special thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 4 stars.

Breathing Underwater didn't have a fast-paced plot but it was a quick read. The story flowed well and takes place over the course of a week and though one of the plot drivers was the road trip the sisters take across the US, this was very much a character-focused story. The youngest sister, Olivia, is the narrator and we spend a lot of time going through the constantly churning thoughts in her head. It was easy to forget that she's so young because of how much responsibility she places on herself to support her sister and family. She's a natural people pleaser and helping others find happiness is what brings her joy but that does mean she carries a lot of weight on her shoulders.

I thought the author wrote about the complexity of sister relationships really well. It's easy to forgive and let go of hurts but it's also easy for resentment and anger to grow internally. Olivia is constantly optimistic and looking at the bright side of life but she also questions her role in the family especially when her sister doesn't seem to appreciate her despite being able to so easily show happiness to others. She's the perky kind of happy and she channels a lot of her energy towards her sister, Ruth, whom she keenly watches for signs of worsening depressive states. I couldn't help but think that Olivia was one of the most genuine and endearing characters I've come across in a while. What I also admired about her was her determination to follow through when she sets her mind to something, but also how driven she was about her dreams of becoming a National Geographic photographer--not once did she question her ability in that respect and I loved her assuredness!

In contrast, Ruth's depression meant she was constantly tired, irritable and as her mental state got worse, so did her ability to interact with and 'tolerate' others, but especially Olivia. I do wish that we could've got Ruth's POV as it would've given the story a bit more depth and made it more impactful. That said, as someone who's a sister and who also suffers from depression, reading this got pretty tough and sad at times. I could relate to Olivia's worries for Ruth but I could also relate to Ruth's state of mind. The author handles the mental health topic very sensitively and does a great job presenting what it's like to live with depression while also managing to highlight what it's like to live with someone who has depression. She writes about the topic in a very accessible way that creates understanding while also showing that there is no 'template' for what depression looks like and signs may present themselves differently (even when you think you know exactly what those signs are).

Overall, while I wouldn't necessarily say this was a light or happy read it was hopeful and realistic. There's no path or journey that will suddenly make everything perfect and will make the bad days disappear for good but it's important to keep trying because the good days will come and it will be worth the effort.
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BREATHING UNDERWATER is a sensitive and well-written contemporary middle grade novel. I love the concept and the cover is swoon-worthy! The story moves well and the road trip provides an entertaining way for the narrative to develop.

The topic of depression is handled in a careful fashion. The author does not delve deeply into the character of Ruth and what she might be feeling or experiencing. However, I think this was done on purpose.

The main focus of the book is on Olivia, the younger sister, who feels responsible for making things better. I felt so worried for her, especially when she shoulders so much burden on her young shoulders. I didn't quite agree with how the parents handled this.  But as the novel progresses, I became convinced that Sarah Allen crafted each of the novel's layers with a deft hand. Even if you find yourself questioning some of her choices, I urge you to keep reading to the satisfying conclusion.
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Breathing Underwater is a thoughtful, middle-grade novel that focuses on depression and its impact on an entire family.

Author Sarah Allen adeptly shows the family dynamics; from how Olivia’s parents approach things to how Olivia is carefully watching. Olivia has gotten to the point where she knows the signs. She knows when Ruth will have a good or bad day. That sort of sibling understanding rings true.

Where things could have been better developed, however, is with Ruth. Some readers might construe her constant eye-rolling and iPod habit as that of a normal teenager. While Olivia’s observations add context and depression manifests differently in people, a little more depth, perhaps from Ruth’s perspective could have taken Breathing Underwater to a more impactful place.

Despite my quibbles, I don’t want to discount the value of Breathing Underwater. Mental health issues, including depression, manifest in so many ways that this book may find its way to readers for which it will resonate. Allen’s writing style is accessible and tender, making it a good addition to this genre.
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This heartfelt middle-grade novel is about Ruth, a 16-year-old suffering from depression and her younger sister Olivia who wants nothing more than to connect with Ruth the way they used to. 
As they head out on a road trip with their Aunt & Uncle, Olivia is hoping that this will remind Ruth of all the fun they had together three years ago on the road trip that brought them from California to Tennessee. I really loved Olivia and how optimistic she was and how she was able to go with the flow, when things didn't go as planned.

I have depression and I felt that Sarah Allen did really well dealing with this topic. Allen shows great sensitivity to the topic of depression and I think that middle-grade readers should come away with a better understanding of it I also felt that the reader can see that depression wears different faces, comes with different symptoms, and that it’s not one size fits all. This is such an important message! Just because someone looks fine on the outside doesn’t mean that they are fine on the inside. Which is something I deal with all the time, we all need to be gentle with each other. 

Thank you NetGalley for this ARC!
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I love so many things about this book. The relationship between sisters Olivia and Ruth. The road trip. Olivia’s photography. The descriptions of the places they visit. The perspective of someone watching a beloved sibling struggle with depression.

Some parts of the story are hard and sad. Ruth’s depression is so present and real. Olivia’s love for her sister, her frustration and grief over the things she’s lost in her relationship with Ruth because of her illness, and her agony and guilt over feeling invisible and lost as her family focuses on her sister’s needs all felt so real and searing and raw.

In spite of those hard/sad things, though, Olivia is a bright, optimistic person at heart. She rallies and tries again. She finds beauty and humor. And she watches the people around her, looking for the ways they reach her sister that seem to work and to help. I love her ingenuity and her love for her sister.

I think fans of CHIRP by Kate Messner or ASTER’S GOOD RIGHT THINGS by Kate Gordon will love this story.
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**I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours as part of a blog tour, in exchange for an honest review.**

The story begins in Olivia's bedroom, where she is packing her things to go on a week-long trip with her uncles and her sister to try to make her feel a little better. This is because Ruth suffers from depression and there are good days but days when it feels like inside a Pit. It is for this reason that Olivia is so happy to organize the photographic treasure hunt through an RV trip to San Diego, the same one the two had done three years earlier when they were about to move to Tennessee.
What will happen during their journey? Will Olivia make the trip memorable and make her sister smile by remembering the good times they had together? Remembering how beautiful life is and how much stronger you can be together?

The plot is very simple that gives a sprint start to this reading and that invites you to throw yourself into this reading. A sweet and tender plot, which intrigues me and which prompted me to want to read this story together with the visual presentation of the cover.

The cover is wonderful and I find it fits perfectly for this volume. Both because within the story there are references to the aquarium that the two will visit as well as the fact that the two have dived together. Also nice is the reference to the fact that Ruth is with her dark clothes and her hair with a particular cut that finds herself sharing the music with her sister, for once, instead of constantly coming alone within the volume itself; plus the fact that Olivia is leaning over Ruth's shoulder and not the other way around which shows how much Olivia cares about her sister. The title links back to the cover and leaves a much broader sense than it seems. The fact of breathing underwater, the difficulty that comes with it and juggling in a sea of ​​uncertainties gives the cover and the title the perfect combination for this story. Not only for the journey of the two but the very meaning of depression and how similar it can seem to trying to breathe underwater, in the darkest moments.

The setting of the story is a camper on which we will be traveling through the American states, passing through Texas as well as many other interesting places, passing from Knoxville to San Diego in a modern and contemporary era at the time of Instagram and social media. popular, like today.

The characters in this story are not many, we focus mainly on the two protagonists even if we will also get to know a little bit of the girls' two uncles, especially Ellie, of which we will be able to understand something important about her past.

Olivia is a 13-year-old who loves photography and beautiful music as much as she loves her sister. He likes to post his shots on Instagram and share them as a travel diary of his adventures, even the smallest ones, capturing the essence of things. But the most important thing for her is Ruth and to do something for her and to try to make her smile as she once did, sharing the pirates, the photographic treasure hunt and the beautiful adventures. Although Olivia gives her all she finds herself in serious trouble and realizes how fragile her sister is as herself. Olivia suffers a little from the situation, especially with her parents who worry much more easily about Ruth than about her but hold on for her sister and because she loves her.

Ruth is a very closed sixteen-year-old girl who loves music and beautiful photographs that her sister can take, despite being much smaller than her. Ruth suffers from depression and has moments of down in which she closes in on herself and does not want to eat much or talk, which her sister calls La Fossa, and the moments of Up in which she is more open and expansive. She has a very unique haircut and loves to wear heavy hoodies that cover her head and can hide.

Two interesting and strong protagonists, who will know how to involve you and that you will know how to appreciate.

The central focus of this story is not just the caravan ride and the treasure hunt, but the depression and how important this journey is, according to Olivia, to her sister Ruth and that she believes it helps her sister.

The style used is very delicate and simple, which can be read within a few hours even for those who do not chew English very well (I speak Italian of course). It is a very light and fluid story despite the fact that the story deals with a very heavy and equally delicate subject.
There are two implications to this story: one is positive and the other is negative despite the fact that I speak as a person who liked the book a lot.

The positive aspect is very trivial but not so obvious between two sisters. The love between the two sisters and the difficulties they find themselves facing together, one holding the hand of the other even if at times they don't seem to get along very well and Ruth seems closed due to depression. Olivia tries to share as much as possible and organizes this trip especially for her, to show her all the love she has for her and her gratitude just because she is her sister. It is an absolutely positive feeling and I find that it has been transmitted at maximum power making it genuine and spontaneous, as it should always be.

The other side of the coin, which is the downside, is Ruth's disease. Depression is a treacherous disease, which creeps underneath and which is sometimes even difficult to notice. I can say this because I have suffered from it - not at levels to take particularly heavy medicines - but I have been through it too and I still realize it when I have moments that bring me down. So it is not a feeling unknown to me and it is also for this reason that I decided to throw myself on this book because I was intrigued by the subject and I like these strong and important themes. In some moments, rather than suffering from depression, Ruth seems to have the classic period that every teenager has that closes in on herself and needs her moments of hers. On other occasions, however, her illness seems to be more evident, and it almost seems to be real. So I appreciated the effort and the calibration of the author on this but in some moments it is rather minimal and not very real in terms of emotional impact with the actual disease.

Another point, the weight given to Olivia: managing her sister and herself. The fact that Olivia feels almost guilty of her sister's illness, so much so that she has to organize the trip - which I do not doubt is a wonderful thing - but that the parents agree by putting everything on the shoulders of the younger daughter who obviously begins to suffer from the weight of what he has in front of him as the hours and days pass in contact with his sister Ruth. Just as I dislike the fact that Olivia tries to make her sister feel guilty about her tattoo. I did not like her words at that moment but I postponed it since it is a thirteen-year-old protagonist who demonstrates and should demonstrate her age in these circumstances. In many others, especially for some reasoning it seems bigger but I find that she has been well calibrated. On the other hand, however, I appreciated the fact of the parents aware and close to their daughter, ready to help her, as well as the uncles, ready to do anything for their nieces, an aspect not just in these stories, which is often put aside or even find the distant or absent parent / relative.

However, the thing that strikes me most in a totally positive light is how this story manages to insinuate itself in the heart by touching the right chords, talking to us from the heart, conquering us with Olivia's words towards the world, the situation and with the love for her sister. It's a very sweet and exciting story that I appreciated and that I would gladly reread because she knows how to enter you and hit you straight to the heart, despite what has been said and the complications that arise in dealing with issues of this type.

The book is a pleasant story for children that I feel I can recommend especially in schools, given the delicate and very current topic. A story that I can recommend to children but also to adults who want to delve into a unique story under the surface of the water.

I had not yet read anything by Sarah Allen, although a book has already been published previously in Italy, Coraggiosa come una ragazza (What Stars Are Made of). The author takes us on a traveling journey through the photographs, the music and the indissoluble love of two sisters who support each other and will continue to do so forever. A story to read!

The vote for this book: 4 stars.
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3 1/2

Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen is a tender middle-grade novel about Ruth, a 16-year-old suffering from depression and her younger sister Olivia who wants nothing more than to connect with Ruth the way they used to. Olivia is hoping that this road trip with their Aunt and Uncle will remind Ruth of all the fun they had three years ago on the road trip that brought them from California to Tennessee. While the surprises that Olivia plans for Ruth don’t work out as she would have liked, Olivia goes with the flow.

Olivia as the narrator spoke and frequently behaved like she was several years younger than 13, which I found distracting but this probably would go unnoticed by most middle grade readers.

The topic of depression is dealt with with great sensitivity and is conveyed in such a way that middle-grade readers should come away with a better understanding. As well, the reader sees that depression wears different faces, comes with different symptoms, and that it’s not one size fits all. This is an important message. Just because someone looks fine on the outside doesn’t mean that they are fine on the inside.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Ruth, 16, and Olivia, 13, are sisters and best friends. They grew up loving pirates, treasure hunts, and music, but as they break out of childhood and into teenage-dom, they begin drifting apart. Ruth is suffering from depression, and Olivia is worried. She is always watching for signs and tiptoeing on eggshells to protect her older sister. But Olivia also wants to be recognized as her own person and not constantly asked “how is Ruth?”

I liked this but didn’t love it. Though both protagonists are over 13, it still felt like a middle grade novel. The attempt to deal with  difficult topic (depression) is commendable, but it didn’t feel very “real.” Eye rolling and constantly listening to music simply didn’t equate to depression in my mind, and so it felt like there was less depth to this novel than others I’ve read that deal with mental health issues.

There were some good elements such as when Olivia realizes Ellie, her aunt, suffered from depression and childhood trauma and came out the other side. I also liked how the author repeatedly hit home that someone can be depressed and still have “good” or “happy” days. Overall though, it just fell short for me.
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An absolutely touching story of two sisters, one which feels miles apart from the other. Olivia knows her older sister, Ruth, deals with depression (known as The Pit) and is often very hard to read and please. Luckily, Olivia and her sister are able to go on a road trip with their aunt and uncle and it makes Olivia giddy knowing she can help recreate a lot of their past memories that she cherishes. Surely Ruth will cherish them too… Yet again, another beautiful story from Allen that will connect with many readers who are like Olivia and for those who are like Ruth.
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I read this book in one sitting and had to take a few days off to soak it all in.  Breathing Underwater is the very well-written story of two sisters on a road-trip across the U.S. Olivia is an avid photographer and hopes to work for National Geographic when she grows up.  Ruth, the older sister, is less than thrilled and spends most of the trip in her berth in the RV writing songs while hooked up to an Ipod.  They are travelling in an  RV driven by their uncle and aunt from Tennesse to California where they will be met by Olivia's mother and father at the place they called home three years before.  Olivia's plan is  to recreate the photos she and Ruth took on their move to Tennessee.  She's hoping her photos and the lure of uncovering a treasure chest they buried before they left California will help Ruth out of the dark places she's been spending so much time in lately.  Olivia is trying her best to take photos that will help Ruth smile and help Ruth remember what it felt like to be happy.  The trip, along with gentle guidance from family, allows the girls to explore their relationship and helps Olivia to find some answers as well as to be heard through the cloud of Ruth's depression.  Sarah did a beautiful job exploring the family and the effects of depression on Ruth as well as the family.  She handles the depression with honesty and compassion, as well as making Olivia's desperate hope to help and heal seem very real.  I think everyone should read Breathing Underwater.  I loved reading it and learned a lot.  Perfect for middle school through high school as well as adults.  I appreciate the chance to read the ARC from Net Galley - this is one of my favorites!!!
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Breathing Underwater, the middle-grade contemporary by Sarah Allen, beautifully explores the experience of a young girl named Olivia as she learns to best interact with her older sister, Ruth, who struggles with depression. The story takes place as Olivia and Ruth join their aunt and uncle in a cross-country drive, with the final destination being a beach cave where the two sisters buried a treasure box once years before. Olivia and Ruth are both nuanced, realistic characters with their own quirks and interests that adds to their complexity as characters. Olivia believes it’s her responsibility to keep Ruth happy and healthy, and out of “the Pit” of depression that Ruth sometimes falls into. As the story progresses, Olivia learns that she doesn’t have to be everyone’s source of optimism and sunshine all the time and how to care for herself the right way while still supporting her sister in a healthy way. This book had some beautiful, deep sentences that were a joy to read. This book can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and should be read by anyone who has a family member or friend who struggles with depression. I give this book five stars.
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Breathing Underwater is a moving middle grade novel about sisterhood, art, and loving a sibling with a mental illness. This book portrays depression realistically, showing the highs and lows, while reminding loved ones that sometimes loving people the way you know how to is the best you can do. Fans of books about road trips, family stories or emotional stories will love this quiet middle grade novel.
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This little book packs a punch. I cannot remember reading a book that manages to tug my heartstrings the way this one did. Despite being a quick read, BREATHING UNDERWATER makes every word count.


I can't remember the last time I read a book that had such a profound impact on me. I can't even write a review because I'm at a loss for words to express my thoughts and feelings about it. It's introspective, insightful, and such a very important book. It will definitely make my top reads of 2021, and is a must-add to all middle school collections.
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Review 	This little book packs a punch. I cannot remember reading a book that manages to tug my heartstrings the way this one did. Despite being a quick read, BREATHING UNDERWATER makes every word count.

Thirteen-year-old Olivia is excited for a road trip in an RV in more ways than one. The main one being that she wants to unearth a treasure chest she and her older sister buried before they moved from Californian to Tennessee. She hopes the memories will bring her sister, Ruth, out of her depression.

"One of the worst parts about depression is that it's not like an outside illness, where you can see the broken bone or the red swollen nose. It's an inside illness where you have to know the subtle signs."

While this is a middle-grade book, it does cover the heavy topic of depression through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old girl in such a mature and skilled way. Olivia is young, but she understands the signs to watch out for when her sister goes into one of her dark moods. Olivia genuinely loves her sister and will do anything to get her to be happy again all while understanding her illness. She doesn't question it. She doesn't tell her sister to "just smile" or "think happy thoughts." She knows the effects of depression on the maturity of an adult.

And this is what's so heartbreaking.

I can count on one hand how many books I've read in my life that have made me...sigh. Not sigh in a boring way, but because I cared so much about these sisters that I wished I could reach through the pages and hug them.

This book releases on March 30th, but I suggest you preorder it now. I'm in awe of this story and the beauty of sisterhood and love among anguish. I cannot tell you how incredible this book is so, this review will have to do
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A fascinating exploration of sisterhood and what it means to love someone with depression. The kind of book that stays with you for a long, long time.
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