Friday, July 26, 2019

How it Feels to Float, by Helena Fox. Dial Books, 2019

Teen aged Elizabeth (Biz) has problems. She has depression, panic attacks, PTSD, and obviously something more. She’s unsure about her sexuality but her kiss with her best friend didn’t turn out well at all. An evening around a bonfire on the beach has her branded as having had sex while there and is therefore a slut. Her father talks with her about things every evening while sitting on her bed. This is probably her biggest problem; her father has been dead ever since he committed suicide when she was 7.

When she walks out into the ocean, she is saved by the new boy at school, Jasper. They don’t seem to get along very well. When Biz takes an interest in photography, she meets octogenarian Sylvia, an avid photographer. They become friends, and Sylvia teaches Biz about photography. She also turns out to be Jasper’s grandmother. Awkward. Then an adventure ends up with Biz in the psych ward of the hospital.

A pall of sadness hangs over the whole book, and one of uncertainty. The story is told by Biz, who is an untrustworthy narrator, so we are never sure of what is real or imagined. The pace is slow. While I feel this is a good book, an example of coming of age with mental illness, it never took fire for me. It felt like an obligation to keep reading, rather than a treat. I can only give it three stars.

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