Saturday 25 June 2016

BREATHING UNDER WATER by Sophie Hardcastle

Nineteen minutes and eleven seconds separated us at birth. On the official documentation, he is older . . . Although it really has nothing to do with age. What it really means is that I am, and have always been, second.

Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they'd surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.

Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.

I received a lovely ARC of this book from Hachette Australia, and got stuck into it this week.

Grace and Ben Walker are twins. They live on the coast and are very close. The twins also love the ocean. Both of them are great surfers, but Ben is so good he's got sponsors and wins competitions. Grace has always lived in his shadow, coasted while he shone like a star.

When the new boy in school catches her eye, she can't believe someone isn't blinded by Ben's charisma and sees more in her than a small, skinny girl. After an awful incident happens to her best friend and seems to bring the group together, a horrifying tragedy strikes. Something that darkens Grace's world so much she loses herself when she was supposed to be concentrating on her last year of high school.

The fallout affects everyone, and threatens to drown all of them...

Wow. This book is heavy. It's written in a unique lyrical style, and I particularly loved the way the Australian way of life is captured so well you can pretty much feel it. The surfing scenes were also exciting, fun and very vivid. Oh, and be prepared to get hungry while reading this book because the Walker family makes some delicious meals.

This isn't an easy book to read because it starts out like an average YA--a group of friends who hang out together, love to joke around and are in their last year of school. Then before you realise what's happening, everything gets turned upside down and the reader totally wipes out.

I also have to admit that while I really liked Grace at the beginning, I had a hard time liking her as she loses total control of her life and does some very stupid things with drugs, alcohol and boys. But having said that, of course it made sense. Grace loses everything that made her life awesome, so not caring about anything or anyone makes total sense.

Breathing Under Water is such an emotional and heartbreaking book. It introduces the reader to happy, laidback teenage twins whose life shatters much too early. It's also a journey into how one teenager handles grief, while watching those she loves collapse around her. And how she needs to drown in sadness before being able to find even a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

I really enjoyed this story. And don't forget: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. ;)

Breathing Under Water, July 2016, ISBN 9780733634857, Hachette Australia

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