Depression and mental illness in general are all too common in society today. Though these can be highly destructive afflictions, they often go unnoticed unless people are looking closely enough to see them. While suffering with mental illness is hard on the sufferer, people close by experience difficulty, as well.
Breathing Underwater is the story of thirteen-year-old Olivia who has been watching her sister, Ruth, slowly unravel over the past three years since her depression began invading her mind. Ever conscious of others’ feelings, Olivia does everything she can to put on a happy face to make sure Ruth and her parents don’t have to worry about her, as well. But all of this pretending is making her own emotions bubble beneath the surface, and Olivia may not be able to keep up her smile forever. Please see my full review here.
While it is a valiant effort to keep everyone else feeling happy, it is not something that can be sustained long-term. Luckily, Olivia has supportive and attentive family members around her who make sure she is taken care of even when Ruth requires more direct attention. Readers who have direct experience with depression from the outside will connect deeply with Olivia’s behavior and emotions, and their hearts will go out to this young girl who is just trying to make everything better.
Throughout the entire story, Olivia is focused on her photography, often seeing the world differently from those around her. Each image is described in detail within the text, making readers feel as though they were observing it directly through Olivia’s lens. At the end of the book, I felt like I had watched a scrapbook of images from the story playing in a slideshow to the soundtrack of the songs on Ruth’s iPod. This is a beautiful story about the depth of the bond sisters can share, and I hope you get a chance to read it.
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