The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

The Art of Not Breathing

Written by Sarah Alexander

13+ readers   YA readers   Summer Reading   eBooks   
Download an extract Add to wishlist Share this book

The Lovereading4Kids comment

April 2016 Debut of the Month Five years have passed since Elsie's twin brother vanished into the sea on their birthday. Her parents and brother are still broken by their loss and Elsie feels like half of her is missing, but also as if Eddie is living within her. Elsie feels guilty too. She’d promised her dad that she wouldn't let go of Eddie’s hand, but she did and now he’s gone. Memories of that day seep back to her, but the details ebb and flow like the tides Eddie was lost to.

Elsie takes refuge in eating, and in an abandoned boathouse. It’s her secret hideout until Tay turns up. His passion for freediving sparks Elsie’s interest in the sport. When diving, Elsie “stopped feeling any pain at all”. Down there, in the sea, she's “not a loser” and she becomes set on reaching the bottom of a forty-three-metre drop-off to say goodbye to Eddie, and “to tell him that I'm sorry”. While Elsie’s focused on this mission, and also dealing with bullies and falling for Tay, her older brother Dillon desperately needs help for his eating disorder. And then the truth of what happened on that fateful day rises from the depths.

Alongside exploring grief, guilt, male bulimia and parental alcoholism with honesty and grace, the author has created an unforgettable heroine in Elsie, whose haunting, heartfelt tale comes highly recommended. ~ Joanna Owen


The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

When I'm underwater, I remember things. Flashes of the day my brother Eddie vanished. My father holding me; my mother missing. And the deeper I dive, the less pain I feel. I can believe my brother isn't dead, that my family isn't falling apart. I can forget that it was all my fault. The only trouble is, eventually you have to come up for air.

All Elsie can remember of her tenth birthday is her older brother swimming with the dolphins. And her twin brother, Eddie, playing in the sea next to her. But then Eddie disappeared. And all Elsie remembers is seeing blue. Five years on, Elsie can’t make sense of it all. Her parents are a mess, and school’s a nightmare. But then she finds the boathouse – and the boat boys. Confident, cool and addicted to freediving. They tell her it’s too dangerous for her to join in. That it’s too dark, too scary, that it will hurt. But what do they know about pain? They don’t know being underwater is the only time in five years Elsie hasn’t ached for her brother. And they don’t know that being underwater brings flashbacks – to the day Eddie vanished. And Elsie is determined to discover the truth.

With an astonishing voice that sings, shocks and sears this is a young adult debut perfect for fans of E Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun.

Freediving – diving without any breathing aid – has become rather topical as the sport gains popularity. Industry professionals Apneists UK train and compete on a regular basis, The Stylist recently ran a feature on filmmaker Martina Amati’s documentary Under on its restorative benefits, and this summer following the death of Natalia Molchanova, the BBC wrote an article on The Lure of the Deep. Freedivers say the sport is peaceful and relaxing.

“'s a very introspective sport, the divers have to shut out the outside world. It's a sport of two extremes - you go to extreme depths but you also have to go deep into yourself to do it.” - Stephen Whelan, Deeper Blue

That’s what free-diving is to Eddie in this gripping cross-over debut, The Art of Not Breathing.

About the Author

Sarah Alexander

Sarah Alexander was born and bred in London. After working as a tomato picker, travel consultant, mental-health support worker and suitcase administrator, she returned to London to complete a Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck College in 2013 (which she passed with distinction). Sarah now works as an editor on digital language-learning projects. She has had short stories published in The Mechanics Institute Review and on Writers Hub, as well as several non-fiction pieces on travel websites. THE ART OF NOT BREATHING is Sarah's first novel.

Author photo © Melissa Valente

More books by this author

Loading similar books...

Other Formats

Book Info


384 pages


Sarah Alexander
More books by Sarah Alexander

Author's Website

Author's Facebook Latest


Usborne Publishing Ltd

Publication date

1st April 2016




We love Lovereading4kids because they put books in front of us we wouldn’t otherwise have read. They make us more adventurous readers!

Emily Jacques

You give me age appropriate ideas of books I can read and buy for the children and find out what other children their age think of them too.

Katie Lonsdale

I love lovereading4kids because I’ve read amazing books I would never have picked up, and its opened doors to new genre’s I now love.

Harriet Cunningham

I love Lovereading as it provides an honest opinion and showcases a range of fiction. Suited to both parents & kids alike, it’s a must-use.

Georgie Rowe – age 16

Love “Lovereading4kids” as my son gets to hear about & read new books before his mates which keeps him interested in reading=a very happy Mum

Liz Evans

I love Lovereading because I often never know what to read and this helps you find a good book. I have recommended this to many people.

Shannon-Louise Masters – age 15

It’s a community united by a passion for books and promoting the best there is in children’s literature.

Sam Bateman and family

Writing reviews help the children with their literacy skills and we always read the books together which gives us good quality family time!

Cat Bisland (on behalf of the Bi

Lovereading 4 schools