ARC Review: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

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synSince 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.review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & HMH Books for Young Readers

+++Deals with themes that may be triggers: loss of a child, sexual assault/battery, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts. Mature content. 


  • The Art of Not Breathing is about overcoming grief, coping, dealing with the world when it feels like half of your soul is missing. The story is an ode to siblings, to that special connection between twins, and the ways we struggle to live with the memories that haunt us after loss. The flashbacks to Eddie and Elsie when they’re younger are full of that playful, childish innocence and love, their bond is beautiful and poignant. 
  • Mystery drives the plot forward, that, and the promise of romance. The pieces are there like a sweet little puzzle you can’t wait to solve. They’re spread throughout the story and take a bit to put together, but the conclusion is unexpected, be ready to be surprised. 
  • Elsie is an intriguing character. In many ways she’s socially awkward, a bit strange, but not nerdy, lost in her head, and a daydreamer. She’s self-conscious, bullied, and yet, in some ways, super forward. She’s a hard read. When Elsie starts to free dive, she opens up, develops, and becomes more introspective, she learns to start to love herself and forget about what others think. When she finally stands up for herself, you’ll want to cheer, she’s come so far. 
  • There’s a cool awkwardness that floats through the story. It’s very coming of age in a sort of The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Paper Towns meets the Georgia Nicholson series. 


  • The plot was scattered. There are so many things going on that the story gets a little lost at times. Between the drama of eating disorders, parents fighting, bullying, etc., the story unravels and I wasn’t entirely sure where it was going or why.
  • Some parts were weird, voyeuristic, and oddly sexualized, they went overboard and for what felt like no reason at all. Not necessary. 
  • Parts were predictable. The “bad” characters were stereotypical and boring. 

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