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How It Feels to Float
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How It Feels to Float

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  193 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn't be here but is. So Biz doesn't tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn't tell anyone ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Dial Books
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4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  193 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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chloe ✨
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars!

“Life is terrible and beautiful, isn’t it? It’s the best/worst at the exact same time, all possibilities at once.”

I absolutely adored this book and read it at the perfect time for me. This is a powerful YA contemporary that deals with mental illness, sexuality, grief, family, friendship and more.

There is so much to love about this book:
1. The mental illness rep. This is one of the most authentic portrayals of mental illness I have ever read (this is own voices for the mental illness re
C.G. Drews
There's so much love to give this harrowing, yet hopeful, novel... It's the kind that absolutely stays with you, long after you turn the final page. It's about grief and loss and disassociation. It's about friends who stick by you, and friends who leave -- both things that made and broke my heart to read. Biz is the kind of character who feels things so deeply and wholly, and she's never gotten over her dad leaving. She sometimes sees him, sitting on the end of her bed, reminiscing about her bab ...more
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
I really loved the first half of this, but the second half honestly felt like a completely different book. Blah.

TW: death of a parent, depression, sexual assault
Hannah Greendale
Fox's poetic writing is impressive and effectively renders the wry first-person voice of Biz, a teenager struggling with mental illness, questioning her sexuality, and grappling with the death of a beloved family member. A touching story of grief and an unflinching portrayal of inter-generational mental illness. At times, How It Feels to Float is a slow burn with little momentum, but Fox's dazzling linguistic style keeps the pages turning.
We stare into the fire. It makes shapes for us to see.

julianna ➹
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Grief feels like this:
an okay day and a good day and an okay day
then a
Bad that follows and empties you.
Bad like a sinkhole.

This novel follows Biz, a girl whose father died when she was young and she's still going through grief and disassociation during her late teenage years. Her father still appears to her in visions that she has and he still speaks to her often. The narration is incredibly influenced by how Biz is feeling and I thought that it captured her as an unreliable narrator so
Latanya (CraftyScribbles)
Beautiful in its haunting glare, Helena Fox presents a story about ghosts and mental illness, and how they both chase those inflicted with their presence.


1. Lovely writing . Fox does not write the average YA fiction here. She uses descriptive prose and free verse split into various formats to make its point of a young girl falling into madness over life, including losing her father (view spoiler). We see how her mind works via lucid and vivid language.

2. LGB
Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

“I don’t mind not knowing the universe is filled with incomprehensible things. We exist inside a multitude of singularities. I accepted this a long time ago.”
I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that How It Feels to Float is one of the most stunning debuts I’ve read recently. There’s such a calming rhythm to the writing that pulls you into Biz’s chaotic thoughts. It’s quite the perfect pairing. The writing is lyrical, poetic, and about as close as you can get to a novel told in verse,
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow! What a book!

I feel like I've been from the moon and back after reading this. So powerful. So emotionally intense. I need a nap. lol

Big thanks to the publisher and Bookish First for providing me with an advanced review copy.

TW: depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts and disassociation.
However, this book dealt with the mental health aspect so beautifully and with such grace, I do think it was dealt with with the utmost care and grace. The author explored these mental health issues in such a mov
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An in-depth look at intergenerational mental illness where you will physically FEEL what the character is feeling. Fans of Challenger Deep will enjoy this!
Annie Deo
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cross-posted to my blog.


This is a debut by an Australian author featuring an Australian teen in Wollongong – I don’t read as much #loveozya as I should, so I’m glad I was given a chance to read this. The book takes you on a journey through the fractured mindscape of our protagonist, Biz, as she teeters on the verge of a breakdown.

As someone who has lived with depression for over a decade, I’m drawn to books that deal with mental health issues. What I really appreciate is that this is an #ownvo
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great Debut Novel about Mental Illness, Family, Young Love and Friendship

How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox was written in quite a unique style. Its flowing prose captured my attention from the beginning and drew me in in a subtle way at first and then became more addictive as I got deeper into the story. The author, Helena Fox, drew from her own experiences of mental illness, to make How It Feels to Float believable and yet unpredictable. It was hard to put down once I started reading it. My e
Elvina Zafril
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
How It Feels to Float is a heartbreaking story about love, grief, mental illness, LGBTQ, family and friendship.

Biz is a young girl who is struggling with who she is. She has a lot in mind. She doesn’t know who she’s attracted to. Losing her father caused her a trauma. And that causes her mental illness issues. I just felt so bad for Biz. I understand the mental illness and how hard it is. I just can’t imagine how someone with mental illness cope with this issue. I can’t imagine how helpless the

”Life does kind of suck,” I say. And it’s true. Life is impossible, chaotic. It’s a maze of sorrow and sunlight; it can’t be mapped.

We stand on the path, five or so steps away from the sea. I could run and jump and in a second, I’d be in all that water. And the sea would say, “What took you so long, Biz?”

Stare into a fire for more than a minute and it’s clear we humans are ridiculous for thinking we’re solid. We are built from nothing, collapsible in an instant. We’re elements arranged, empty
Kathy - Books & Munches
Jan 18, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: releases-2019
LGBT+, mental health and there seems to be a hint towards some kind of abuse in the summary? I think? As if the first two weren't plenty of reason for me to want to pick this up already!
Mari Johnston
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.

How it Feels to Float is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read, and that isn’t something I say lightly. Biz’s story has ingrained itself in me so deeply and I will forever carry her with me. This is one of the most accurate portrayals of mental illness I’ve ever seen and it absolutely blew me away.

Helena Fox’s writing is beautiful and poetic. Lacking chapters, the novel is broken into incredibly short parts that flow
When it comes to YA books, I think some of the topics that need to be discussed more often is grief and mental illness. It is incredibly important to such a vulnerable community, and from that aspect of things, this book deserves both my praise and admiration. However, I had an incredibly difficult time finishing this book because it just did not hold my attention.

Elizabeth ‘Biz’ is a 16-year-old teenager who in addition to dealing with the typical drama of every day high school life is still g
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars

How It Feels To Float is the sort of book you’d wish you’d read sooner. It successful captures feelings that some of us can never put to words and is so raw and hopeful. It’ll definitely leave you thinking and Biz’s story is one that’s going to stay with me for a long time.

This was definitely a heavy book about depression, death, suicide and PTSD among other things so take note.

This was such a quiet and touching novel! The writing style was so lovely. It was kind of a slow paced, wistful,
Jenny (Bookbookowl)
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thankyou to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of How it Feels to Float, in exchange for an honest review.

How it Feels to Float wasn’t really like any book I’ve read before. The writing style was really different and it did take me a while to get into the swing of it, but once I did it suited the story so well. This is a book about grief and a book about mental health. It’s a book about bullying and a book about the affect all those things have on both the person experiencing t
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. The story is so relevant and relatable. Biz can't control her thoughts. At times, they get the better of her. As her mental health begins to unravel, we get a firsthand look at how she experiences the world.

What I really liked about this story was how accurate the portrayal of mental illness is. Biz's thoughts, feelings, and actions, are authentic. And you just don't read about it, you feel it. The writing mimics the unwinding of Biz's thoughts. This style has triggered me
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
Elizabeth/Biz is mentally ill which affects every part of her life. Though she’s never given a diagnosis she hallucinates, has difficulty distinguishing psychosis from reality, is profoundly depressed and often wants to die. Having seen her dead father perched on her bed or across the room giving her advice, she doesn’t want to lose him.

HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is filled with beautiful prose, but is is a painfully slow, arduous read. Helena Fox, who is mentally ill with several of Biz’s condition,
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookish-first
This novel was extremely powerful! Biz is a likeable character. She is a teenager living in Australia. Her father has passed and she lives with her mom and younger twin siblings. Biz is a vegan and is inseparable from her friend Grace. Biz is going through some typical teenage angst trying to figure things out when one night something happens which causes her to lose it. Biz spirals and tries to put herself back together to stop herself from floating out of her body.
I cried several times at th
Dipankar Bhadra
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Intergenerational mental illness এর ওপর বেসড করে গলপটা দাঁডিযে থাকলেও... আসলে এই গলপ হলো খুঁজে বেডানোর। জীবন থেকে "আশা" আর "ভালোবাসা" সারাজীবনের জনয চলে যাওযার পরও তাদের খোঁজ চালিযে যাওযার কথা শোনায এ গলপ। কেমন লাগলো বলা খুব মুশকিল। জানি বুঝতে পারছেন না। দাঁডান.. একটু বুঝিযে বলি, ভেবে নিন আপনি জলে সাঁতার কাটতে নেমেছেন। কোনো লকষয ছাডাই কাটছেন.. সাঁতরে ওপারে যাবার কোনো ইচছে ও আপনার নেই। তবুও আপনি সাঁতার কাটা বনধ করতে পারছেন না। এই বইটা পডতে গিযে আমার অবসথা সেরকমই হযেছে। কেন পডছি.. কি জানার জনয পডছ ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Jandy Nelson, Nina LaCour, Adam Silvera
I read How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox (an #ownvoices debut author!) after seeing a blurb that suggested the main character might be queer (one of the themes I seek out in children’s and YA lit). Without getting too spoiler-y: as it turns out, this book is not only about an Australian teen protagonist exploring her sexual orientation. It is also about lineages of trauma, blood and chosen family, and the small miscommunications that turn loved ones into strangers, and it is a much different-- ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
Man, I read this over a few days and I couldn't stop thinking about it, even when I wasn't reading. It's gripping and real and just completely punched me in the heart.
Jenny Brown
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lol what a mystery haha. Great job Helen
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
WARNING: There are triggers for panic attacks, suicide, suicidal thoughts, hospitalization and PTSD in this book.

I am oddly amazed by this book. What a beautiful work of fiction. I'm mainly impressed by the language and the writing. It was an honest take on mental health and I was mesmerized.

Honestly, I picked up this book because of the title and the cover. Something about it caught my eye and all I could think was, "There is something about this book and I need to figure out what that somethi
Kristy ▪ The Reader Dragon
Actual Rating: 4.5
Oh me oh my where do I start?

This debut novel is so complicated yet straightforward, and so so so heartbreakingly beautiful. Told in a poetic style, we see the world through the eyes of a young girl named Biz who is struggling with grief and her sexuality, and whose life is slowly unravelling as she succumbs to mental illness.

"And it's so clear how far I have fallen. How far I am from where the stars are."

The story itself is a real slow burner, but I found myself burning throug
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Biz is struggling. She has her photography and her friend Grace and a woman named Sylvia who is there for her. Her father passed away but he still visits her. She meets a boy named Jasper and she goes on adventures with him. She knows her brain works differently, but she is afraid to tell Jasper that. But she ends up having to face it all and deal with it.

This book showed what it is like to struggle with a mental illness, how you can seem normal on the outside but know that things going on insi
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
(Follow @morganreadsalot on Instagram for more reviews)
Thank you @penguinrandomhouse for this free copy of How It Feels To Float.

This gorgeous and touching book exploring the effects of multi-generational mental illnesses is out May 7th, which is fitting since May in National Mental Health Awareness Month. This may be YA but, like most YA I read, has a viewpoint that I think is important for readers of all ages.

How It Feels To Float is lyrical, and funny, and sad, and sometimes all three at onc
Jessica B
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished another book! Another hard hitting YA contemporary, seems to be my book of choice at the moment! However this one is written by an Australian and we all know how much I love my homegrown books #loveozya I really enjoyed this book, the delicate and compassionate handling of sexuality and mental illness was something truly beautiful to read. I found The descriptions of school life and adolescents spot on. That may be because it’s set in Australia 🤔 I highly recommend, particularly for t ...more
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Helena Fox lives in Wollongong, Australia, where she runs creative writing workshops for young people. She’s a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.
She has travelled widely, living in Peru, Spain, the U.K, Samoa, and the US. Of all her adventures, Helena is proudest of the work she has done helping young people find and express their voice.
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