4.5 stars. Spoiler-free review below! This book will be released April 26th, 2015.
Thank you to HMH kids for providing me an ARC of this book! My thoughts and review are in no way influenced by this.
The Art of Not Breathing is a YA contemporary that not only deals with romance but also with a very heavy topic: death and getting over it. The main character, Elsie, is a 16-year-old girl who lives in Scotland. Five years ago, her twin brother, Eddie, disappeared while they were swimming. However, Elsie can not remember what exactly happened that day. Her family broke apart, and parts of her memory are hazy and unclear. Ever since, she has been trying to remember but still can’t put together all of the pieces.
In reality, this book may be considered to have no “plot”. But I personally think that this is what made the book special: as the book progresses, so does Elsie, and slowly the mystery of what happened that day unravels and once you put all of the puzzle pieces together, it really touches you.
One day, Elsie leaves her house to go to her secret hideout, an abandoned boathouse, where she meets Tay. Tay and three other boys his age are divers, and as Elsie gets to know them, she also wants to dive. As Elsie dives, she realizes that it really relaxes her mind and she begins to remember the tragic day that happened five years ago.
Honestly, I believe that should be enough to captivate you. If I give to much of a synopsis, then I’m afraid I will spoil you because this is the type of book that you will enjoy much more if you don’t know anything about it. Now onto my thoughts on the book!
» The Writing
As I mentioned in one of my status updates, this book has a really addictive writing style. Although, at times, Elsie’s voice is really sad, you want to keep reading and that is precisely what happened to me. The narration and description of everyone is really beautiful, and it keeps the story going and the characters stay with you even though the book is less than 300 pages long.
The writing also really reminded me of a favorite of many people: I’ll Give You the Sun. Just like I’ll Give You The Sun, something tore apart Elsie’s family in the past but the author does not let you know what. However, as the book goes on, Elsie has a lot of flashbacks of the past while she is under the water, and she starts realizing what was actually going on.
Although flawed, most of the characters in this book were also really lovable. My favorite character is easily Elsie. She’s constantly blaming herself for the disappearance of Eddie, but at the same time her character grows. Her interaction with other characters may not be ideal, but I think flawed characters are the best because they are the most relatable and although I hadn’t gone through her situation, I could feel for her. Her actions were understandable, because she was a relatable character. Besides Elsie, I thought all of the characters were really intriguing to read about. I would love to learn more about their backstories, too! 🙂
» The Quotes
There were also quite a few quotes that were really deep, and since they won’t spoil the book I just wanted to share them one with you guys to give a glimpse of the book.
“My advice to you, Elsie, is go with your heart, not your head, because your head doesn’t know what it wants. It only thinks about the moral high ground. And if your heart isn’t happy, when you try to share it you’ll make others unhappy too.”
–pg. 150, ARC of The Art of Not Breathing.
I’d add more, but I think you guys should experience reading it for yourselves. 🙂
The only complaint I have for this book, which is the reason I took down 1/2 a star, is because sometimes I thought Elsie was too attached to Tay. I wanted her to be more independent, and I guess by the end of the story that happened, but I just wish it had happened sooner. Anyways, I didn’t mind this all too much so it’s totally fine.
My favorite part of the book was definitely the ending, because it was so cute and also because everything unraveled and I understood the reasoning for everything that happened before in the book.
I really hope you guys decide to pick this book up when it comes out April 26th, because it’s really worth the read! ^-^ I especially think those who love Jandy Nelson‘s books will really love this one!