Aussie Author Challenge Australian Women Writers Book Reviews

Book Review: Breathing under water #AusRead17 #AWW2017

Seventeen-year-old Ben and Grace Walker are twins in their final year of school. Living in a small coastal town, they spend their time surfing, drinking with friends and preparing for their HSC. While Ben is the surfing star of the Walker family, Grace has to be content with being second-best. It’s a similar situation between Grace and her best friend, Mia. Mia is school captain, pretty, extraverted and intelligent. While it doesn’t affect their friendship, it does result in Grace feeling second-best all over again. When Harley moves to town, all Grace can think of is having her first kiss with him. But then, tragedy strikes and nothing is the same anymore.

Breathing under water is Sophie Hardcastle’s debut novel. While the tragedy is predictable, the book still has a lot going for it, specifically the author’s lyrical writing style. The troubles Grace endure as a teenager are not uncommon and the grief experienced by the characters post-tragedy is also understandable. I loved the descriptions of the sea and the surf; it makes the coast come alive. Probably given my own love for the water, I was mesmerised by Hardcastle’s depictions of the same.

There were a few things that didn’t gel with me. For starters, when I first started reading the book, it felt like it was set in the 90s; it had that sort of feel to it. But then, a few pages in, there was a comment about YouTube videos and mobile phones which then set it in current times. Yet, for me, not everything about the characters seemed to be consistent with the present. I also wish there was more character development to explain the motives for some of their behaviours. Finally, I had a problem with just how easily the teens bought alcohol — I’m not a prude but in this day and age, it’s harder for kids to go and buy their own alcohol unless supplied by an adult. I’m not saying they don’t drink — they all do — but usually it’s supplied by an older sibling or parent or at least the teens raiding the alcohol at home. It didn’t seem completely believable.

In spite of those few drawbacks, it’s a beautiful and easy read. It’s a tale of friendships, of ties that bind us, and of resilience. It takes you to the depths of the ocean and as you ride the waves, you eventually come back to shore.

My rating:

Where to find the book:

Book Depository | Booktopia | Fishpond | Kindle

***This has been read and reviewed for the 2017 Aussie Author Challenge and the 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Also linking up this Monday with Denyse for Life this week and Alicia for Open Slather*** 

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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  • Cathy Graham
    30 January 2017 at 11:54 am

    Great review, Sanch! I like reading YA books as that’s the age group I enjoy writing for. So much emotion in YA books. They feel every little thing and everything is a huge deal. I just wrote a first draft of a YA novel taking place in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where my dad lives and my mom was from there originally and retired back there til her death in 2015 so I love the ocean. That would also appeal to me, too and I am fascinated by Australia. Hope I get to visit there some day. Now I want to read this book and to see how it feels like the 90s, too even with modern day influences.
    Cathy Graham recently posted…DeceptionMy Profile

  • Cathy Graham
    30 January 2017 at 11:54 am

    Great review, Sanch! I like reading YA books as that’s the age group I enjoy writing for. So much emotion in YA books. They feel every little thing and everything is a huge deal. I just wrote a first draft of a YA novel taking place in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where my dad lives and my mom was from there originally and retired back there til her death in 2015 so I love the ocean. That would also appeal to me, too and I am fascinated by Australia. Hope I get to visit there some day. Now I want to read this book and to see how it feels like the 90s, too even with modern day influences.
    Cathy Graham recently posted…DeceptionMy Profile

  • Lux G.
    30 January 2017 at 12:01 pm

    OMG, I’ve been wanting to read this book. Thank you for reviewing it for me.

  • Lux G.
    30 January 2017 at 12:01 pm

    OMG, I’ve been wanting to read this book. Thank you for reviewing it for me.

  • Obsessivemom
    30 January 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Despite the shortcomings you mentioned this seems like an okay read. I like books on relationships aso also YA fiction.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…The special thing about shelled peanutsMy Profile

  • Obsessivemom
    30 January 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Despite the shortcomings you mentioned this seems like an okay read. I like books on relationships aso also YA fiction.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…The special thing about shelled peanutsMy Profile

  • Vanessa
    30 January 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I can’t remember what I was watching on TV recently but they pick and choose when people have mobile phones – and it was bugging me. It was like “oh it’s too easy to fix this is they had a mobile on them so we’ll just ignore they had one two scenes ago”… it doesn’t ruin the story but it does detract from it a bit.
    Vanessa recently posted…What To Write To Your Newsletter SubscribersMy Profile

    • Alicia O'Brien
      31 January 2017 at 9:36 pm

      I watched a movie the other night, where the last surviving actor shot a crocodile with a gun she took from the dead body of her friend. It made me wonder why HE (the dead friend) didn’t use it earlier to shoot the killer croc when he had the chance. Seemed a bit dumb!
      Alicia O’Brien recently posted…Many hands make light workMy Profile

  • Vanessa
    30 January 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I can’t remember what I was watching on TV recently but they pick and choose when people have mobile phones – and it was bugging me. It was like “oh it’s too easy to fix this is they had a mobile on them so we’ll just ignore they had one two scenes ago”… it doesn’t ruin the story but it does detract from it a bit.
    Vanessa recently posted…What To Write To Your Newsletter SubscribersMy Profile

    • Alicia O'Brien
      31 January 2017 at 9:36 pm

      I watched a movie the other night, where the last surviving actor shot a crocodile with a gun she took from the dead body of her friend. It made me wonder why HE (the dead friend) didn’t use it earlier to shoot the killer croc when he had the chance. Seemed a bit dumb!
      Alicia O’Brien recently posted…Many hands make light workMy Profile

  • Bronnie - Maid In Australia
    30 January 2017 at 2:52 pm

    I’m keen on YA fiction too as I’m trying to get my daughter to read it. She does read a lot but mainly Japanese and translated from Japanese. She needs to read more English books, and in particularly Aussie books that are suitable for her age group. I think this one might appeal! Thanks.
    Bronnie – Maid In Australia recently posted…Message To My Son – The 2017 EditionMy Profile

  • Bronnie - Maid In Australia
    30 January 2017 at 2:52 pm

    I’m keen on YA fiction too as I’m trying to get my daughter to read it. She does read a lot but mainly Japanese and translated from Japanese. She needs to read more English books, and in particularly Aussie books that are suitable for her age group. I think this one might appeal! Thanks.
    Bronnie – Maid In Australia recently posted…Message To My Son – The 2017 EditionMy Profile

  • Nabanita Dhar
    30 January 2017 at 2:56 pm

    It seems like a good read. Will definitely keep it in mind. I don’t read much YA fiction these days but I sometimes do miss reading those. Maybe this one then. 🙂
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…#WorkingWomen | Women – The Future Of EmploymentMy Profile

  • Nabanita Dhar
    30 January 2017 at 2:56 pm

    It seems like a good read. Will definitely keep it in mind. I don’t read much YA fiction these days but I sometimes do miss reading those. Maybe this one then. 🙂
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…#WorkingWomen | Women – The Future Of EmploymentMy Profile

  • Denyse
    30 January 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Sounds like you were a bit put off by the reference to the modern tech when the storyline didnt match..but that you also enjoyed it in general. I used to dream I could breathe underwater..tried it once. Nope. Couldn’t!
    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week 5/52. Next week’s prompt is “How Much Money is Enough”.
    Denyse recently posted…Back To Routines. #LifeThisWeek 5/52. 2017.17.My Profile

  • Denyse
    30 January 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Sounds like you were a bit put off by the reference to the modern tech when the storyline didnt match..but that you also enjoyed it in general. I used to dream I could breathe underwater..tried it once. Nope. Couldn’t!
    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week 5/52. Next week’s prompt is “How Much Money is Enough”.
    Denyse recently posted…Back To Routines. #LifeThisWeek 5/52. 2017.17.My Profile

  • Sulekha
    30 January 2017 at 5:53 pm

    The books live in me forever and I am scared of reading tragic tales. Your review makes me want to be brave, great review.

  • Sulekha
    30 January 2017 at 5:53 pm

    The books live in me forever and I am scared of reading tragic tales. Your review makes me want to be brave, great review.

  • Alicia O'Brien
    31 January 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Love your reviews, also glad for your ‘read & reviewed’ page, so I can refer to it, when I find the time to read!
    Alicia O’Brien recently posted…Many hands make light workMy Profile

  • Alicia O'Brien
    31 January 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Love your reviews, also glad for your ‘read & reviewed’ page, so I can refer to it, when I find the time to read!
    Alicia O’Brien recently posted…Many hands make light workMy Profile

  • January 2017: A hope-filled month - Living my Imperfect Life
    1 February 2017 at 6:51 pm

    […] read four books in January and reviewed two of then: Selection Day and Breathing Under Water. In January, I moaned about my lack of self-discipline but also signed up for the 12WBT challenge […]

  • January 2017: A hope-filled month - Living my Imperfect Life
    1 February 2017 at 6:51 pm

    […] read four books in January and reviewed two of then: Selection Day and Breathing Under Water. In January, I moaned about my lack of self-discipline but also signed up for the 12WBT challenge […]

  • Soumya
    2 February 2017 at 1:37 am

    It does seem like a good read but I haven’t read YA fiction in years. Never fancied them much.

    When I heard about this book for the first time, I had many expectations about it. But after your review, I might just let it go.
    Soumya recently posted…Action Replay: January 2017My Profile

  • Soumya
    2 February 2017 at 1:37 am

    It does seem like a good read but I haven’t read YA fiction in years. Never fancied them much.

    When I heard about this book for the first time, I had many expectations about it. But after your review, I might just let it go.
    Soumya recently posted…Action Replay: January 2017My Profile

  • Kavipriya Moorthy
    2 February 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Nice review 🙂 I love the cover much.

  • Kavipriya Moorthy
    2 February 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Nice review 🙂 I love the cover much.

  • Ramya Abhinand
    2 February 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Not bad though. I could read it over a laz sunday….. An honest review indeed.

  • Ramya Abhinand
    2 February 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Not bad though. I could read it over a laz sunday….. An honest review indeed.