Liza Wiemer's Reviews > Breathing Underwater

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn
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Nov 27, 2011

Read in November, 2011

Take thirty seconds and think about what behaviors you've picked up from a parent.
Are they positive?
Are they negative?
Would you want to change them?

Breathing Underwater is a powerful novel about abuse narrated by sixteen-year-old Nick. He lives with his abusive father but hides that abuse from everyone. His anger, vulnerability, helplessness against his father grows. Until he falls in love with Caitlin, a girl who doesn't exactly have the greatest self-esteem. At first, she's deeply flattered by Nick's attention. He sticks up for her, treats her with respect. But soon the relationship turns abusive. At the beginning it's verbal and he uses words to control her behavior and her self-image. Eventually the abuse turns physical, and it's not until the physical abuse that Caitlin completely wakes up and has had enough. It doesn't stop Nick. Despite despising his father, Nick turns into the monster he despises the most.
It's a long journey for Nick to realize what kind of person he has become and whether or not he is truly capable of changing. Alex Flinn finishes this novel in a way that makes the reader feel hopeful. She doesn't sugarcoat anything. In addition to Breathing Underwater, I highly recommend SPLIT by Swati Avashti. Both novels are award-winners and address the issue of abuse realistically.
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