Title: How to Breathe Underwater
Author: Vicky Skinner
Published: August 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Like it
Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she’s been a part of her whole life.
Now in a new home, new school, and faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn’t so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There’s only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.
As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?
“Michael didn’t expect anything from me. My father, my mother, even Lily, they all expected something from me, whether I was ready to give it or not. But Michael just looked at me like he was waiting. He was waiting to see what I would do next, what I would say next, who I would be in the next ten minutes” (p. 90).
Thank you Vicky Skinner, Swoon Reads, and Xpresso Book Tours for a free eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
After Kate’s father successfully ruins Kate’s life by getting caught cheating by the WHOLE swim team, Kate’s mother moves them out to Seattle to be close to her college-age sister, Lily. Not only does Kate need to deal with a wave of hurt, she also needs to get used to a new city, a new school, and being away from her best friend. Can anyone do that gracefully? Luckily, Kate’s mom is one of those people persons and has made friends with people in their building before they’re even unpacked–including this super cute boy named Michael.
Michael from the get-go is kind and funny. Even though Kate’s mom has already told him everything anyone needs to know about Kate, he still wants to know more and really invests in her. He’s one of those characters that radiates sunshine and you just can’t be sad when he’s in the scene. Unfortunately, his life presents it’s own set of challenges, specifically his mother, who’s cough just keeps getting worse and worse.
It’s clear that Kate and Michael deal with their struggles in different ways–Kate is angry at her dad and scared of life without swimming, terrified of learning how to breath again. She tries to make the most of her situation by making friends, but her emotions are fairly close to the surface. Michael pushes his emotions down, instead focusing on being positive and having fun. As they wrestle through the hand life has dealt them, I loved seeing it shape who they are, how to support each other, and how they feel about each other. My heart couldn’t get anymore full.
While Kate has a lot of anger and lashes out sometimes, I found all the characters to be redeeming and show positive growth. Skinner’s writing is captivating and uplifting, while still facing the conflicts head-on. Everything about this book is feel-good and I’m all about it.
Born and raised in Texas, I don’t act like much of a Texan. I like cold weather and hate country music. I have a gorgeous husband, two dogs, and a Literature degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. If I’m not at home reading a book or doing laundry, I’m probably at the bookstore, nannying three rambunctious boys, or stuck on the side of the road with car trouble. I’m a reader, a writer, and a bit of a crazy person.