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The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

The Art of Not Breathing

by Sarah Alexander

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A coming of age and coming to terms with circumstances in life novel. Witty at times, heart wrenching at others, Alexander delivers a full bodied story with interesting elements that drives it along. The aspects of an sport and a mystery come together to tie up loose ends and give you a feeling of hope. Well done.
*I received an arc from NetGalley for an honest review ( )
  KimMcReads | Sep 5, 2016 |
THE ART OF NOT BREATHING by Sarah Alexander is a work of realistic fiction exploring a five year old drowning incident.

It’s been years since Elsie’s twin brother Eddie drowned in the ocean near their home. Elsie is having a difficult time remembering the circumstances of his death and is determined to find out what really happened. This vividly described story explores the long-term effects of death on family and friends.

Librarians will find that fans of We Were Liars and I’ll Give You the Sun will be drawn to this authentic adventure. The novel will also appeal to teens who enjoy a touch of romance and mystery.

To learn more about the author, go to http://www.sarahalexanderwrites.com/.

Published by HMH for Young Readers on April 26, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher. ( )
  eduscapes | Jun 11, 2016 |
3.5 stars Liked it a lot
Source: earc from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via edelweiss
Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy). I am not paid for this review, and my opinions in this review are mine, and are not effected by the book being free.
Review by Brandi Breathes Books

I wanted to read this because I like stories that deal with grief and also the ones that have a new person to come into their lives and help them realize a new way to live.

The characters
the family is definitely present but there's a rough dynamic between Elsie and her parents. She also had a very rocky relationship with her brother but they do have moments of bonding, mostly through memories shared of their brother Eddie who drowned since their parents are silent.

The grief
Elsie dealt with her grief in some pretty bug ways she steals some stuff, overeats, and she smoke cigarettes and she keeps tho herself a lot.
She feels invisible at home, especially on her birthday, they go silently to eddies grave and her mom promises they will celebrate later but never do. She feels like getting attention involves her stealing or when she.ways tho much, even if they are negative attention.
She has really low self esteem and doesn't do her homework or do well in school.
Her brother's grief is touched upon with his eating disorder.

The new guy
They first meet at Elsie's hideout, and again when she is having tea and talking with his father about free diving, and he then asks her to come with him.

The mystery
Okay, one part is figuring out what exactly happened to Eddie when he drowned. Elsie doesn't remember, it's all foggy, but things start to come back to her as she is in water.
Another part is whether or not Elsie has mental issues, since she says she feels Eddie inside her and talks to her. Or if it's a bit supernatural or just some part of her grieving process.

What I didn't like
The abrupt flashbacks are annoying. They should have a section break or chapter break or something to alert you its not in the present anymore.

The ending
Didn't really see some of the things coming, but glad about wrap-up overall.

Bottom Line: Look at grief and loss and how it effects a family. ( )
  brandileigh2003 | Mar 29, 2016 |

I'm giving this book a 1.5 rating. This is more of a poorly constructed rant about the main character than a review.

"I'm so relieved he's not running away that I kiss him, on the lips, and I have to rein myself back in before I literally eat him."

I wasn't aware eating people was part of being far too attached to a boy you just met.

In all honesty, 1.5 stars might be generous. Like most readers, I generally want to love the book I'm reading. I like to give books and their authors every chance they deserve because I believe everyone has a right to have their work read without bias. Well, I started reading without bias and I still ended up hating this book with a passion.

I did my best to take this book seriously. I did my best to respect the characters who were not so much flawed in a natural human way but kind of unbearably stupid and also assholes. The main character, Elsie, is kind of what you would expect a 16 year old girl to be like. She's stupid, falls in love with every boy who is even a little nice to her, thinks the world revolves around her, and apparently gets drunk after drinking half a beer. That last one might be the most concerning as I even took the time to calculate possible BAC and even making her as small as 80lbs she shouldn't be feeling a damn thing. I started to question if the author had indeed done all the things the "About the Author" section claims she has as it seems she may never have left her home. This is not a personal attack, I'm just wondering if any of this was researched and if it was how it went so wrong.

Anyway, Elsie's twin brother, Eddie, drowns when they are about 11. They had been swimming at the beach and he just sort of vanished. Elsie starts having random flashbacks containing information she doesn't remember being there. As the story goes on we're supposed to be getting sucked into this mystery of what actually happened that day but you know what I was concerned about? Her other brother. While Elsie, the winner of about 17 stupidest teen awards, goes to hang out with her boyfriend (this is the guy she met maybe a few months ago who has taken off out of town without warning or explanation and probably also had something to do with this Eddie conspiracy) her brother has a serious eating disorder. Our beloved heroine, Elsie, is fully aware of this illness and instead of taking the time to even talk to her brother she lurks pro-ana forums learning absolutely nothing useful and sleeps with her boyfriend in a boathouse. She keeps saying things like "just hang on a few more days" so that she can sort out her own trivial problems because yes, people suffering eating disorders just experience organ failure on your schedule.

"I wonder if part of me wants her to go through this so someone understands how I feel"

My next favourite thing about Elsie is that she gets some satisfaction out of watching her mother mourn the loss of her husband of roughly 20 years and compares this pain to her boyfriend of maybe 3 week breaking up with her. It's kind of brilliant how angry one character can make me.

I could go on about Elsie and how much I dislike her for at least 20 pages but I think you get the point here. She takes stupid teenager to a new level. Before I end this rant I'd also like to make brief comment regarding this drowning conspiracy and the ending of the book. It's highly disappointing even when you aren't expecting much.

I do not recommend this book. I thank God that this was free and in digital format because this is one book I would be leaving at a bus stop on purpose if it were in print. ( )
  Elaesa | Mar 12, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544633881, Hardcover)

Five years after the drowning of her twin brother, Scottish teenager Elsie Main confronts the tempestuous sea—and her family’s tragic past—in a young adult debut that will appeal to fans of the mystery of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and the family drama of Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 19 Jul 2015 22:59:35 -0400)

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