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How It Feels to Float
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How It Feels to Float

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  395 ratings  ·  161 reviews
Biz knows how to float. She has her posse, her mum and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, and who shouldn't be here - because he died when she was seven - but is. So she doesn't tell anyone her dark thoughts. She knows how to float, right there on the surface - normal okay regular fine.

But when the tethers that hold B
Published April 23rd 2019 by Pan Australia
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  395 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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chloe ✨
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
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-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 character
(Bern) Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
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 i
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.

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
Susan's Reviews
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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,
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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!

”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 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Annie Deo
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elvina Zafril
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Kathy - Books & Munches
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  ·  review of another edition
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
"Grief feels like this: an okay day and a good day and an okay day then a bad. Bad that follows and empties you. Bad like a sinkhole."

I always love reading books focusing on mental health. Its definitely important.
How It Feels To Float focuses on grief and as each chapters turn, we are met we other issues Biz faces with.

Firstly, the writing is beautiful.
It's very descriptive in a very creative way. How Biz emotions is being portrayed and how her demons inside her head is speaking to her throug
Jenny (Bookbookowl)
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
Nicole Johnson
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-releases
I LOVED this! I think this has just become one of my favorite books ever!
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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