Three years ago, before their family moved from California to Tennessee, Olivia and Ruth buried a time capsule on their favorite beach. Now, they’re taking an RV back across the country to uncover the memories they left behind. But Ruth’s depression has been getting worse, so Olivia has created a plan to help her remember how life used to be: a makeshift scavenger hunt across the country, like pirates hunting for treasure, taking pictures and making memories along the way.
All she wants is to take the picture that makes her sister smile. But what if things can never go back to how they used to be? What if they never find the treasure they’re seeking? Through all the questions, loving her sister, not changing her, is all Olivia can do—and maybe it’s enough.
Title: Breathing Underwater
By: Sarah Allen
Published by: Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: March 31st 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Middle-Grade
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.
About the Author
Sarah Allen has been published in The Evansville Review, Allegory, and on WritersDigest. She has an MFA from Brigham Young University. Like Libby in her novel What Stars are Made Of, Allen was born with Turner Syndrome.
Tour-wide giveaway (US/CAN)
- Print copy of Breathing Underwater: CLICK HERE FOR RAFFLECOPTER LINK
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