Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How It Feels to Float” as Want to Read:
How It Feels to Float
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How It Feels to Float

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,759 ratings  ·  722 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 (first published April 23rd 2019)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How It Feels to Float, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
KABOB :)) Although it seems like she dies in multiple parts of the book. She never actually dies in the end.
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Nolwenn Well, we never read a proper diagnostic no. But the psychiatrist says that Biz suffers from several conditions.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,759 ratings  ·  722 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of How It Feels to Float
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A heart is a mystery and not a mystery. It hides under ribs, pumping blood. You can pull it out, hold it in your hand. Squeeze. It wants what it wants. It can be made of gold, glass, stone. It can stop anytime.

This is the type of book that gives you a tangible feeling of pain, making you feel empty like there's no more space left for you to process the emotions you are currently feeling. Reading this book made me feel like I was being pinned to a wall to witness the events the main c
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2019-reads
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 illnes
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, ya-books
4.5 emotionally wrought stars for this book that completely broke my heart. 💔 How It Feels to Float was beautifully written and I was completely taken in by Biz. Oh, how I wanted to pull her out of the pages and just hug her. 💖

I loved the relationships Biz built with Jasper and Sylvia. Not at all what you'd expect, but simply perfect.

Helena Fox who also lives with mental illness expertly shared Biz's thoughts, reactions and feelings - pulling us into it all right along with her. You feel as
Charlotte May
3.5 ⭐️

“Life is terrible and beautiful isn’t it? It’s the best/worst at the exact same time, all possibilities at once. I guess it’s whatever it is when you observe it. And a second later, it’s something else.”

So many feelings!

I was looking forward to this one, especially as it was pegged ‘A modern day The Bell Jar’ which is one of my favourite books.

However this didn’t quite hit the mark for me sadly.
Biz knows how to float - she has her family, her best friend Grace and the ghost of her dea
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
J  (Midnight Book Blog)
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was so, so beautiful. From the very first page I knew I would fall in love with Fox’s writing, world-building, and characters, and I was not at all disappointed.

Biz is a 16 year old high school student trying to navigate the complicated world of friends, discovering her sexuality, and dealing with the loss of her father almost 10 years ago. Despite seeing and hearing her dead father periodically, she is doing well, until one night on the beach sends her entire life into a spiral. Afte
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is Aussie YA about a girl named Biz who floats her way through life, hears photos speak to her, and sees her dead dad. Written in an evocative magic-realism style, the reader is never really 100% sure whether or not the things that Biz is seeing are really there-- in part because she isn't, either.

I'm so grateful for the people who reviewed this before I did because they set me up for some pretty strange narrative d
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.

Susan's Reviews
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Incredible! I read this book slowly, and savored this very touching and honest revelation of what it is like to live with several types of mental disorder. The writing was lyrical, poetic - and even downright magical at times. It was not always easy going: I had to put the book down and give my overworked emotions a rest more than once. But this was so worth the time, energy and emotion that I invested in this wonderful, life-changing read.

In her Acknowledgement at the end of the book, the autho
I'm not sure I can, or am qualified to write a review for this beautiful, sad and yet hopeful story of mental illness, and how it can take over a person's life without them realising it, and there are far more eloquent reviews out there already. All I know is that I loved Biz, wanted the very best for her, wished I could take her in my arms and hug her tight. I loved her relationships with both her family, and with Jasper.

This book made me laugh, and cry, and it will stay with me for a long time
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
How it Feels to Float is an incredibly beautifully written novel that explores grief, anxiety, depression and dissociative disorder in the most careful of ways.

The novel follows Biz as she floats through her life. The book opens with her having a group of friends, being close with her mum and her siblings, being best friends with Grace who she can't decide if she loves in a romantic way or as a friend...

But she's never truly there with these people.
She finds herself floating through situation
Jen - The Tolkien Gal
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
I've finally finished this book and it hit me hard, but it was amazing to find a book about dossociative disorder with just real and likeable characters. Full review to come, as always

Thought I'd read this since I'd like to get out of my own numbness. I've been eyeing this book for months. Finally got the guts to get it.

Yes look okay this hurt my heart and that is all.

I am going away for four days and maybe when I get back I will have sense but right now my words are broken like in this book that had weird formatting
and long sentences
that had
no punctuation
but punctured my heart anyway.


Okay so I've had my four days of craziness to process this one and I'm ready to make a bit more sense!

The metal illness rep here is ridiculously powerful. This book could not have been written by someone who has not experience
“Here I am, in borrowed bones, in makeshift skin, looking out it eyes that are a construct, breathing with lungs that are only a step–a basic rearrangement–away from leaves. How funny, to have a body when I am not a body? How funny, to be inside when I am outside.”

I was listening to a song that made me think of this story, and how despite my love for it, I never wrote a proper review. So, here I am, writing a sort of review. Truth is, there's nothing that I can say which will give justice to th
julianna ➹
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
Zitong Ren
And would you look at that, I really enjoyed myself again reading another contemporary by an Australian author. It’s interesting seeing that many of my favourite contemporaries that I have read, not that I’ve read many, is that they are by Australian authors, which I think is great. I do think that a part of it is that since I’ve lived in Australian my whole life, is that I am really able to connect with the characters more, even if I never have undergone the things the characters have to go thr ...more
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
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.

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 i
April Henry
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. The writing was amazing - lyrical, whimsical, inventive. The characters were real and flawed. Sometimes I will put bits of paper in between pages to mark passages I especially like, and by the time I was done with the book, it looked like a porcupine.
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
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it

”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
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
Jun 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
not for me

I really love the mental health / grief themes, but the biggest problem for me was the lack of even a remote sense of clarity throughout the book. it's understandable that the unreliability of Biz's perspective is a huge part of her character, but it was abrupt and choppy and confusing to a degree that I did not understand what was happening.

the reading has to be comprehensive above all else, and I found myself disconnected from all that was happening because of all of the cuts and tim
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Elizabeth Martin Grey lost her father as a young girl, her single mother moving to the former industrial town of Wollongong, nestled among the coastal escarpment south west of Sydney. Since her father passed away, her mother has been blessed with two more children with the twins father now estranged. Elizabeth or simply Biz to her family and friends, is surrounded by a group of close knit friends and none more so than Grace. But things with Grace have been a little awkward of late, after Biz kis ...more
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
May 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a young adult book that addresses trauma, grief, and mental illness. Biz is a young girl whose father died when she was even younger. Now she sees "him" and he "talks" to her. Then traumatic events occur and things become overwhelming.

This novel is narrated in the unique voice of Biz and is tender, insightful, and often times actually quite humorous. This is good as the topics of the book are heavy and the target audience is young.

Biz is a very well-written, thorough character. Her famil
Elvina Zafril
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: times-reads
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
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 glorious stars.

The last time I felt like this - grieved, sad, lonely, was when I read Words in Deep Blue a while back. I loved that book and the scars the characters brought with them. And while the former dealt with some other issues in a totally different setting, this one felt slightly darker because we were in Biz’s head the whole time, and mate, was it lost and dark.

I think the author did a wonderful job of portraying depression and other disorders. Reading into Biz’s world felt strange
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Bookish First Rea...: How It Feels to Float by Helen Fox 1 11 Oct 22, 2019 12:33PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • This is How We Change the Ending
  • How to Make Friends with the Dark
  • Ghost Bird
  • Girl in Pieces
  • When the Ground Is Hard
  • When Rain Turns to Snow
  • Metal Fish, Falling Snow
  • Where We Begin
  • Wearing Paper Dresses
  • In the Night of Memory
  • The Liars of Mariposa Island
  • Night Music
  • Girl Gone Viral
  • The Good Luck Girls (The Good Luck Girls, #1)
  • Cub
  • Daniel's Good Day
  • The Girls
  • A New Kind of Everything
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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.
How It F

Articles featuring this book

Move over tribute volunteers and chosen ones. There's a new wave of heroes in town. This year, the young adult category is...
56 likes · 15 comments
“Here I am, in borrowed bones, in makeshift skin, looking out it eyes that are a construct, breathing with lungs that are only a step–a basic rearrangement–away from leaves. How funny, to have a body when I am not a body? How funny, to be inside when I am outside.” 13 likes
“I am dead in infinite alternate universes. I am mostly and most likely dead, now, here. All doors opening, all doors closed.” 8 likes
More quotes…