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
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.
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.
“...it'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.
|Publication date:||1st April 2016|
|Publisher:||Usborne Publishing Ltd|
|Suitable for:||13+ readers, YA readers|
|Genres:||General Fiction, Humorous|
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 ValenteMore About Sarah Alexander