Book Review: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle

One of our book fairies in Australia read this month’s Fairy Book Club read, Sophie Hardcastle’s Breathing Under Water. Here is her review!

About the book:

Nineteen minutes and eleven seconds separated us at birth. On the official documentation, he is older . . . Although it really has nothing to do with age. What it really means is that I am, and have always been, second.

Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they’d surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.

Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.

Book Review:

It was such a pleasure to read this book. As a lover of young adult fiction, I was excited to get into this one, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! We have been given a beautiful Australian novel to rival those of John Green. It is undoubtably going to strike a chord with many Australian teens in a way that other young adult books completely miss. The typical Australian teenage life is so well represent in this book, it would be very hard not to relate to it on some level.

book review breathing under waterThe tone and lyricism throughout the book was beautiful. Sophie truly has a way with words, capturing the very essence of her characters lives and shining a poetic light on it all. Everything experienced by her characters was described beautifully without wasting pages on getting the details exactly right. She has a way of painting a picture with only a sentence. This incredible talent made the book very easy to read and enjoy, allowing you to vividly picture and experience what her characters were seeing and feeling without getting too bogged down in the details and losing the flow of the book. This style of writing is perfect for the content and leaves you contemplating the book long after you have finished reading it.

Sophie doesn’t shy away from the hard topics, with many dark themes coming through in the book, but this is a part of life and loss, and only makes the book that much more relatable and realistic. However this makes the book a lot more ‘out there’ and hard hitting than other young adult books it has been compared to. It does contain drugs and sexual references, but it doesn’t shove these in your face. These references play an important part in showing how quickly you can find yourself sinking underwater, that the further you go the faster you seem to travel. However the most important message of the book is that no matter how far down you go, you can always reach the surface again. You can dry yourself off and start again. Through this all it becomes a beautifully written story of love, grief and learning to cope with both. It is a poetically written book on picking yourself up and starting again even when you think there’s nowhere to go but further down, beneath the waves of life.

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