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Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen
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.

I received a copy of exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.
I’d like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on this tour.


Breathing Underwater

Book Details

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publication Date: March 11, 2021
Length: 219 pages
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)
ISBN: 9780374313258

Book Description

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.


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.

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Connect with Sarah on her website,  FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

My Thoughts & Takeaways

As someone with depression, this book represents it in such a great especially for young readers where they will be able to relate and understand. More importantly, they’ll know that there is no “normal” way to feel or act.

I found the characters to be realistic in their depictions as both teenagers and struggling with mental health.

As someone with ADHD also, I also often just forget to listen to music. But, I always, always find it helps me so much when I do remember. Also, as a photographer, it’s so much fun to be able to relate to a character so much.

And, of course, I have to mention the cover. It’s beautiful and what drew my attention especially as I don’t read many middle-grade books. I’m an avid scuba diver and I loved it for that underwater aspect but also what “breathing underwater” symbolizes because often when I’m in a depressive slump or an anxiety attack –– it feels exactly like I’m trying to breathe underwater, without my scuba equipment of course.

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Ashley Hubbard

Ashley Hubbard

Ashley Hubbard is a blogger and freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee focusing on sustainability, travel, books, plants, coffee, veganism, mental health, and more. She has two other websites - wild-hearted.com and odditiesandcuriositiestravel.com

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Giselle

    Lovely review!! This sounds like a book that everyone should read especially with how important, yet how misunderstood mental health and depression is!

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