Don’t have time to read the entire review? That’s okay! Scroll down to the very end for a TL;DR.
Trigger Warnings: depression, anxiety, suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, underage drinking, homophobic slurs
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Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface–normal okay regular fine.
But after what happens on the beach–first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears and, with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe–maybe maybe maybe–there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet.
Debut author Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief, about inter-generational mental illness, and how living with it is both a bridge to someone loved and lost and, also, a chasm. She explores the hard and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea.
How it Feels to Float is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read, and that isn’t something I say lightly. Biz’s story has ingrained itself in me so deeply and I will forever carry her with me. This is one of the most accurate portrayals of mental illness I’ve ever seen and it absolutely blew me away.
Am I – who am I and am I, even?”how it feels to float by helena fox
Helena Fox’s writing is beautiful and poetic. Lacking chapters, the novel is broken into incredibly short parts that flow together and match Biz’s thoughts perfectly. It’s apparent that this is an own voices novel because it truly feels like Fox poured so much herself into these pages. She takes us on such a deep exploration of grief, family, mental illness, sexuality, and friendship.
Here I am. Here I am. Here I am.how it feels to float by helena fox
The first person point of view really makes Biz’s story hit you hard. Fox takes us deep into the mind and thoughts of Biz and did a fantastic job of making me feel everything. The story is completely addictive; a slight air of mystery and unknown surrounds everything. The way in which we slowly learn Biz’s story through bits and pieces of memories and personal discoveries kept me hooked until the very end.
Generally, my reviews always end up longer, but I’m struggling with this one a lot. It honestly was so perfect and I’m having the hardest time formulating any thoughts. Really it isn’t too often that a story leaves me completely speechless, but How it Feels to Float has. This story is life changing and important, and I’ll be cherishing it for a long long time.
TL;DR: Absolute perfection. An incredible examination of mental illness, friendship, and sexuality that has left me speechless.
A physical ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, all quotes should be checked for accuracy against the final published novel.
While reading How it Feels to Float I had a few songs come to mind. I’ve put them together on a Spotify playlist as well as listed them down below in case you use a different music streaming service. I try to not double up on artists when creating playlists, but both of the below songs by The Neighbourhood fit so perfectly that I couldn’t help it.
- Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift
- Unfucktheworld by Angel Olsen
- She by dodie
- Night So Long by HAIM
- Fix You by Coldplay
- A Safe Place to Land by Sara Bareilles
- How by The Neighbourhood
- Afraid by The Neighbourhood
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