[REVIEW] The Art of Not Breathing

Series: N/A
 Sarah Alexander
 young adult, contemporary, mystery
 April 26, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Purchase: AmazonB&NBook Depository

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.
Five years after the drowning of her twin brother, Scottish teenager Elsie Main confronts the tempestuous sea—and her family's tragic past—in a young adult debut that will appeal to fans of the mystery of E. Lockhart's We Were Liars and the family drama of Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun.  

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I have no idea how to go around this book. It's an okay read and sadly it's not something that really struck me. But this doesn't mean that The Art of Not Breathing isn't good.

Death of a disabled twin brother. His disability wasn't exactly mention but let's just say that his learning or mind isn't as able as Elsie. An anorexic older brother - something I've never really come across in a book. An overweight main heroine - I've one in Sugar and absolutely loved it but this... I don't know. Disoriented or broken family. Freediving - interesting. very interesting.

I really like the themes this book tries to explore. Let's get into them one by one then? :)

He was small. He walked like his legs were broken and fell over all the time. He wasn't "clever enough" to go to my normal school. -loc471, eARC

Five years ago, Eddie, Elsie's twin brother with disability, drowned and she can't seem to recall the events of that day. No one tries to talk about it but it continues to break them apart. I like how the events of that day was slowly unraveled through Elsie's freediving. It kept me reading - Eddie's death. What really happened? Why was it such a big deal? Aside from Eddie's death of course.

Dillon's first signs of anorexia surprised me. I was like, where did that come from? I don't really know. I just didn't understand how in the world he was really normal one second and the next he's vomiting every single thing he eats. The worse part is that his parents were oblivious of this. I was like, WTF!?

"That's not the way to get closure. The best way to let go is to start living your life." -loc1541, eARC

Apparently Elsie is overweight. It was mentioned in the early pages of the book. There were hints, bullying here and there but when Elsie delved into freediving and the story started focusing on the mystery, this was plainly set aside. Just what? It disappoints me to see stories set aside an issue. Okay, not exactly set aside maybe that's quite normal but more like... completely forget!

I'm always interested to read books about family issues - what problems brought them to this state, how will they be one again... Here, the root of the family's problem (or the explosion of the problems) came from the day Eddie died. It doesn't exactly have to be Eddie's death that broke everyone but that day simply did something to everyone. Traumatized? Guilt? This book had me reading. I was highly intrigued on what's up with everyone.

"My advice to you Elsie, is to go with your heart, not your head, because your head doesn't know what it wants. It only thinks about the moral high ground. And if your heart isn't happy, when you try to share it you'll make others unhappy too." -loc1809, eARC

Then there's Elsie' freediving. It was a really interesting addition to the story. It became a way for Elsie to connect to her twin brother, Eddie. It was also her way of recalling the events of that day. I really like those moments when Elsie basically just thinks about holding her breath, extending her lung capacity, and trying to know what happened that day because everyone is being secretive.

I didn't completely predicted the revelation. It gave me a bit of surprise but not in such a way that I jaw dropped or something. I was more like: okay, that's interesting. didn't see that coming. now what? Yup. That may just be me though. It's basically because I didn't care about Elsie. I was plainly intrigued. Alexander's writing or Elsie voice just felt bland for me.

Finally let's talk about the romance. You see, there's a bit of romance here. Tay McKenzie (did you read that blurb?). He sounds like your usual good looking and mysterious guy in a book. He isn't my type (ugh. I know, I suck -___-). Anyway, I think that the romance between them was going really good minus Elsie's blindness. I was highly disappointed at Elsie for easily giving in. I hate it when girls just give in the the guy.

We talk about blame and secrets, and we talk about truth. -loc3112, eARC

OVERALL, The Art of Not Breathing is a good contemporary read with a mystery that kept me intrigued until the end. I'm not completely sure if it was Elsie or how Alexander wrote Elsie but she just didn't capture me. I didn't feel for her. I didn't care for her. But all in all, it was a decent read for me and would recommend it to those who'd like to read a quick young adult contemporary mystery :)

~I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~

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How about you guys, what do you think of The Art of Not Breathing? How did you find the mystery? Did you like Alexander's take on freediving?

How do you feel about books that deals with death of a family member? Do you like reading about them? Do you like reading books that involve family issues?

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