Friday, April 2, 2021

Review: Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen with Giveaway!

Just a couple days ago, I gave a quick glimpse at today's review on my 'What's Coming in April' post. There, I claimed it probably had to do a tad bit with romance, too...and I was oh-so wrong. See, I really don't read these until right before I share them with you.
This one is all about sisterly-love...and I should have known that because I was amazed that romance would slip into a middle grade read (silly me). See the little girl in pink below? On the cover? She's got to be the most caring, amazing, and awesome sister anyone could have. 

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Breathing‌ ‌Underwater
by Sarah‌ ‌Allen
Farrar‌ ‌ Straus‌ ‌and‌ ‌Giroux‌ ‌(BYR)
Publication‌ ‌date:‌ ‌March‌ ‌31st‌ ‌2021
Middle Grade‌ ‌Contemporary,‌ ‌ Middle-Grade

Breathing‌ ‌Underwater is‌ ‌a‌ ‌sparkly,‌ ‌moving‌ ‌ middle‌ ‌grade‌ ‌novel‌ ‌from‌ ‌Sarah‌ ‌Allen,‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌big-hearted‌ ‌exploration‌ ‌of‌ ‌sisterhood,‌ ‌dreams,‌ ‌and‌ ‌ what‌ ‌it‌ ‌means‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌there‌ ‌for‌ ‌someone‌ ‌you‌ ‌love.

‌ ‌Olivia‌ ‌is‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌road‌ ‌trip‌ ‌of‌ ‌her‌ ‌dreams,‌ ‌with‌ ‌her‌ ‌trusty‌ ‌camera‌ ‌and‌ ‌her‌ ‌big‌ ‌sister‌ ‌Ruth‌ ‌by‌ ‌ her‌ ‌side.‌ ‌Three‌ ‌years‌ ‌ago,‌ ‌before‌ ‌their‌ ‌family‌ ‌moved‌ ‌from‌ ‌California‌ ‌to‌ ‌Tennessee,‌ ‌Olivia‌ ‌and‌ ‌ Ruth‌ ‌buried‌ ‌a‌ ‌time‌ ‌capsule‌ ‌on‌ ‌their‌ ‌favorite‌ ‌beach.‌ ‌Now,‌ ‌they’re‌ ‌taking‌ ‌an‌ ‌RV‌ ‌back‌ ‌across‌ ‌the‌ ‌ country‌ ‌to‌ ‌uncover‌ ‌the‌ ‌memories‌ ‌they‌ ‌left‌ ‌behind.‌ ‌But‌ ‌Ruth’s‌ ‌depression‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌getting‌ ‌ worse,‌ ‌so‌ ‌Olivia‌ ‌has‌ ‌created‌ ‌a‌ ‌plan‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌her‌ ‌remember‌ ‌how‌ ‌life‌ ‌used‌ ‌to‌ ‌be:‌ ‌a‌ ‌makeshift‌ ‌ scavenger‌ ‌hunt‌ ‌across‌ ‌the‌ ‌country,‌ ‌like‌ ‌pirates‌ ‌hunting‌ ‌for‌ ‌treasure,‌ ‌taking‌ ‌pictures‌ ‌and‌ ‌making‌ ‌ memories‌ ‌along‌ ‌the‌ ‌way.
‌ ‌All‌ ‌she‌ ‌wants‌ ‌is‌ ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌the‌ ‌picture‌ ‌that‌ ‌makes‌ ‌her‌ ‌sister‌ ‌smile.‌ ‌But‌ ‌what‌ ‌if‌ ‌things‌ ‌can‌ ‌never‌ ‌ go‌ ‌back‌ ‌to‌ ‌how‌ ‌they‌ ‌used‌ ‌to‌ ‌be?‌ ‌What‌ ‌if‌ ‌they‌ ‌never‌ ‌find‌ ‌the‌ ‌treasure‌ ‌they’re‌ ‌seeking?‌ ‌Through‌ ‌ all‌ ‌the‌ ‌questions,‌ ‌loving‌ ‌her‌ ‌sister,‌ ‌not‌ ‌changing‌ ‌her,‌ ‌is‌ ‌all‌ ‌Olivia‌ ‌can‌ ‌do—and‌ ‌maybe‌ ‌it’s‌ ‌ enough.
‌ ‌ ‌ Goodreads‌ ‌/‌ ‌Amazon‌ ‌/‌ ‌Barnes‌ ‌&‌ ‌Noble‌ ‌/‌ ‌iBooks‌ ‌/‌ ‌Kobo‌ ‌/‌ ‌Google‌ ‌Play
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                                        * tons of character depth
                                        * heart-felt and well done looks at depression 
                                        * main character is extremely caring and kind
                                        * fun of going on a long trip
                                        * wonderful sisterly bonds and family love                                       


With care, feeling and depth, this book dives into the problems of depression and the wonders of sisterly love.

Olivia has gotten everything ready for the trip with her aunt and uncle in the RV back to their old 'home' in California. But it's not just the usual vacation joy that's got her wound up. Olivia's older sister suffers from depression, and Olivia hopes the trip will remind her of some of the joys of life. Not only has Olivia prepared a travel pirate hunt similar to the one her sister made for her years ago when they moved, but she wants to end it by digging up a treasure they buried together before the move. Olivia's determined and can only hope her plan succeeds.

This book holds heart. Tons of it. Olivia is a very special girl, her uncle says...has a talent for finding little things which will cheer a person up. She's extremely empathetic and holds her sister in very high regard without the slightest bit of ill thoughts about her sister's depression. But then, all the characters in this book are tuned in with love and care, never crossing borders or pushing her sister too far. Their concern is inspiring and wholesome in every way.

Olivia also packs personality. She has a carefree spirit and a playful manner, which makes her very fitting to the age group. Of course, she grows concerned and thinks about many things, but there are little quirks and whimsical thoughts, which keep her rooted into the age group. The idea of a pirate treasure hunt is something which wins over, and her interest for photography with dreams of making the perfect photos adds just the right amount of interesting to her personality. She's simply a fun character.

The story weaves around depression. Olivia's sister's actions and moods are never over the top but remain realistic. They play along with quiet subtleness and small snarky comments. But it's still obvious, through tiny glimpses, that despite the wall around her mentally, she's the same caring person as Olivia knows and loves, and this adds the needed shine of hope. While I appreciate the depth and really enjoyed getting to know the characters, this heavy concentration on Olivia's thoughts did slow down the pacing at times. During the first twenty-five percent of the tale, nothing really happens outside of the beginning miles of their RV trip. It spins around Olivia's constant watch of her sister, thoughts of her photos and hoping her hunt works. I did find myself skipping sentences more and more  until things moved along at a bit quicker pace. The upper end of middle grade readers will appreciate this one more than the younger side (up age 11 or so).

This one full points on diving deep and helping readers to understand depression much better with characters which are hard not to love. 

And here she is...

Sarah‌ ‌Allen‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌published‌ ‌in‌ ‌The‌ ‌Evansville‌ ‌Review,‌ ‌Allegory,‌ ‌and‌ ‌on‌ ‌WritersDigest.‌ ‌ She‌ ‌has‌ ‌an‌ ‌MFA‌ ‌from‌ ‌Brigham‌ ‌Young‌ ‌University.‌ ‌Like‌ ‌Libby‌ ‌in‌ ‌her‌ ‌novel‌ ‌What‌ ‌Stars‌ ‌are‌ ‌Made‌ ‌ Of,‌ ‌Allen‌ ‌was‌ ‌born‌ ‌with‌ ‌Turner‌ ‌Syndrome.‌ ‌

‌ ‌ Website‌ ‌/‌ ‌Goodreads‌ ‌/‌ ‌Facebook‌ ‌/‌ ‌Twitter‌ ‌/‌ ‌Instagram


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Jessica Adams said...

Looks like a good book!

Giselle said...

Thanks for being on the tour! Lovely review! This sounds like a great read with important subjects, too!

Mary Preston said...

An important subject matter to highlight.