Breathing Underwater

Farrar. Mar. 2021. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374313258.
Gr 5 Up–Thirteen-year-old Olivia is beyond excited to be on a road trip to San Diego with her big sister, Ruth, and her aunt and uncle. Three years ago, before her family moved from California to Tennessee, Olivia and Ruth buried a box of special mementos on their favorite beach. The mementos were created while the girls were searching for treasures on a treasure hunt. Olivia hopes that taking the road trip will help Ruth with her worsening depression. Things are different now: Ruth isn’t the bubbly, helpful older sister that she was three years ago when they traveled the same route. Olivia is afraid that Ruth is falling down into “the Pit” again. She wants to look out for her big sister, but understanding the feelings that Ruth is experiencing is proving to be very difficult for Olivia. This is an important story that captures not just the struggles many teens have with mental illness but also the complex and meaningful relationship between two sisters who care deeply for each other, even if they show it in different ways.
VERDICT Beautifully written, this tender novel should be read by anyone who understands how challenging navigating mental illness can be. A first purchase for all shelves; buy more than one copy.

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