How It Feels to Float
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, who loves her so hard, 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 six. 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.

How It Feels to Float Details

TitleHow It Feels to Float
Author
ReleaseMay 7th, 2019
PublisherDial Books
ISBN-139780525554295
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Health, Mental Health, LGBT, Mental Illness

How It Feels to Float Review

  • chloe ✨
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars!“Life is terrible and beautiful, isn’t it? It’s the best/worst at the exact same time, all possibilities at once.”I absolutely adored this book and read it at the perfect time for me. This is a powerful YA contemporary that deals with mental illness, sexuality, grief, family, friendship and more.There is so much to love about this book:1. The mental illness rep. This is one of the most authentic portrayals of mental illness I have ever read (this is own voices for the mental illness re 4.5 stars!“Life is terrible and beautiful, isn’t it? It’s the best/worst at the exact same time, all possibilities at once.”⁣I absolutely adored this book and read it at the perfect time for me. This is a powerful YA contemporary that deals with mental illness, sexuality, grief, family, friendship and more.⁣⁣There is so much to love about this book:⁣1. The mental illness rep. This is one of the most authentic portrayals of mental illness I have ever read (this is own voices for the mental illness rep)⁣2. The writing style. Helena Fox has an amazing poetic writing style, and there were a lot of quotes that really resonated with me⁣3. The characters. I absolutely adored the main character Biz and I related to her a lot⁣4. The friendships⁣5. The exploration of sexuality 6. The setting. This is an Australian novel which made my heart happy⁣Thank you to Pan Macmillan for sending me an early copy of this book.
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  • C.G. Drews
    January 1, 1970
    There's so much love to give this harrowing, yet hopeful, novel... It's the kind that absolutely stays with you, long after you turn the final page. It's about grief and loss and disassociation. It's about friends who stick by you, and friends who leave -- both things that made and broke my heart to read. Biz is the kind of character who feels things so deeply and wholly, and she's never gotten over her dad leaving. She sometimes sees him, sitting on the end of her bed, reminiscing about her bab There's so much love to give this harrowing, yet hopeful, novel... It's the kind that absolutely stays with you, long after you turn the final page. It's about grief and loss and disassociation. It's about friends who stick by you, and friends who leave -- both things that made and broke my heart to read. Biz is the kind of character who feels things so deeply and wholly, and she's never gotten over her dad leaving. She sometimes sees him, sitting on the end of her bed, reminiscing about her babyhood. And she wants him, but she also doesn't want to feel like she's losing the plot like this? Then she kisses her best friend Grace (which turns into an awkward disaster) and a boy pulls her out of the ocean and her life beings to unravel and she can't catch the threads.Mental illness rep is so important in YA. It's so isolating to through things like depression -- and books are here to give us this safe space to say "hey what you're feeling isn't something you have to go at alone". I feel like Biz's voice was so personal, her narration so vulnerable, it was easy to feel like you were experiencing the whole book with her. And as someone who struggles with depression myself, I just found so many scenes made me want to cry. Soooo much accuracy. I think that's the value of #ownvoices novels right here -- they understand and get it right. I loved the style of this, how it was all a breath and a wish of poetry, and the slow unravelling of someone losing themselves to mental illness. It's gut-wrenching and yet threaded with hope. Truly a debut I won't forget!
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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved the first half of this, but the second half honestly felt like a completely different book. Blah.TW: death of a parent, depression, sexual assault
  • Hannah Greendale
    January 1, 1970
    Fox's poetic writing is impressive and effectively renders the wry first-person voice of Biz, a teenager struggling with mental illness, questioning her sexuality, and grappling with the death of a beloved family member. A touching story of grief and an unflinching portrayal of inter-generational mental illness. At times, How It Feels to Float is a slow burn with little momentum, but Fox's dazzling linguistic style keeps the pages turning. We stare into the fire. It makes shapes for us to see. P Fox's poetic writing is impressive and effectively renders the wry first-person voice of Biz, a teenager struggling with mental illness, questioning her sexuality, and grappling with the death of a beloved family member. A touching story of grief and an unflinching portrayal of inter-generational mental illness. At times, How It Feels to Float is a slow burn with little momentum, but Fox's dazzling linguistic style keeps the pages turning. We stare into the fire. It makes shapes for us to see. Part of me detaches. Steps into the fire. Lifts with the flames. Looks down at the boy and the girl. They seem happy. Are you happy, Biz?Am I? Am I - who am I and am I, even? All of us can be altered in a blink. Fire reduces you to nothing. [. . .] Water erodes rocks. Cliffs crumble You are not real, Biz - It's true. Perhaps I am actually the fire? Or the sea? Perhaps I am every leaping molecule. The fire pops, showering sparks. [. . .] A wave crashes. And I flip back in - a slow somersualt into my body. My belly is warm. My mouth is full of sweet and salt. My skin is here, my body, my bones. Take it for now; take it in, Biz. Hold it, this trembling, borrowed time.*-*Note: Quote taken from an Advanced Reader's Copy.
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  • julianna ➹
    January 1, 1970
    Grief feels like this: an okay day and a good day and an okay day then a bad. Bad that follows and empties you. Bad like a sinkhole.This novel follows Biz, a girl whose father died when she was young and she's still going through grief and disassociation during her late teenage years. Her father still appears to her in visions that she has and he still speaks to her often. The narration is incredibly influenced by how Biz is feeling and I thought that it captured her as an unreliable narrator so Grief feels like this: an okay day and a good day and an okay day then a bad. Bad that follows and empties you. Bad like a sinkhole.This novel follows Biz, a girl whose father died when she was young and she's still going through grief and disassociation during her late teenage years. Her father still appears to her in visions that she has and he still speaks to her often. The narration is incredibly influenced by how Biz is feeling and I thought that it captured her as an unreliable narrator so, so well. It's hard to explain exactly what this book is, but it's mainly an exploration of Biz trying to bring her father back and trying to deal with the impact his death has left behind on her entire life. This is the kind of book that pulls you in and makes you really feel for the characters. I think that Biz's narration was amazing— her voice is sarcastic and hopeful, and she's genuinely trying. Biz is a certain kind of mess: she really, really wishes that she could be "better" but she will make bad decisions, and I think that this accurately portrays the kind of funnel mental illness can put you in. Also, this isn't only written in prose; it has sections of beautiful, poetic writing. I just?? do not know how to describe this. I am dead in infinite alternate universes. I am mostly and most likely dead. I am dead, now, here. all doors opening, all doors closed. the biggest tragedy of all time is that I forgot when I started reading this !!! I know I started it like two weeks ago but which day???
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  • Latanya (CraftyScribbles)
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful in its haunting glare, Helena Fox presents a story about ghosts and mental illness, and how they both chase those inflicted with their presence. Pros: 1. Lovely writing . Fox does not write the average YA fiction here. She uses descriptive prose and free verse split into various formats to make its point of a young girl falling into madness over life, including losing her father (view spoiler)[ to suicide (hide spoiler)]. We see how her mind works via lucid and vivid language.2. LGB Beautiful in its haunting glare, Helena Fox presents a story about ghosts and mental illness, and how they both chase those inflicted with their presence. Pros: 1. Lovely writing . Fox does not write the average YA fiction here. She uses descriptive prose and free verse split into various formats to make its point of a young girl falling into madness over life, including losing her father (view spoiler)[ to suicide (hide spoiler)]. We see how her mind works via lucid and vivid language.2. LGBTQA Representation . Is Biz (short for Elizabeth) gay? Bi? Pan? She's queer, and while she's unsure of how to label herself, she's given the space via her family and Fox to contemplate without fear. 3. Mental Illness Representation . As someone living with a mental illness, Fox writes a clear and properly-researched narrative of someone fallen, not into Hollywood's vision of mental illness, but a realistic portrayal. I felt seen in instances described in this tale.4. An Unconventional Ghost Story . Biz often sees and hears her father when no one's around, but is she really seeing him, or is her mind creating space for her to handle her loss of him?On the other hand, I see no real cons, other than it runs a little long. Some chapters could have been cut or edited for brevity. Thus, this story's a winner, thanks to proper representation and beautifully haunting words I occasionally see in great YA literature.4.5/5 stars
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  • Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)
    January 1, 1970
    “I don’t mind not knowing the universe is filled with incomprehensible things. We exist inside a multitude of singularities. I accepted this a long time ago.” I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that How It Feels to Float is one of the most stunning debuts I’ve read recently. There’s such a calming rhythm to the writing that pulls you into Biz’s chaotic thoughts. It’s quite the perfect pairing. The writing is lyrical, poetic, and about as close as you can get to a novel told in verse, “I don’t mind not knowing the universe is filled with incomprehensible things. We exist inside a multitude of singularities. I accepted this a long time ago.” I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that How It Feels to Float is one of the most stunning debuts I’ve read recently. There’s such a calming rhythm to the writing that pulls you into Biz’s chaotic thoughts. It’s quite the perfect pairing. The writing is lyrical, poetic, and about as close as you can get to a novel told in verse, without being told in verse. There’s a stream of consciousness quality to Biz’s thought that comes across as completely organic and let’s you get to know her in an intimate way. But it can also be incredibly tough to read, because Biz is going through a lot and definitely has dark thoughts that encroach. But I loved her friendship with Grace, Jasper, and Silvia. So even thought this is a tough read, I think it is definitely worth it. How It Feels to Float is an exploration of grief and acceptance and the ghosts that chase you on your journey to healing.
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! What a book!I feel like I've been from the moon and back after reading this. So powerful. So emotionally intense. I need a nap. lolBig thanks to the publisher and Bookish First for providing me with an advanced review copy.TW: depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts and disassociation. However, this book dealt with the mental health aspect so beautifully and with such grace, I do think it was dealt with with the utmost care and grace. The author explored these mental health issues in such a mov Wow! What a book!I feel like I've been from the moon and back after reading this. So powerful. So emotionally intense. I need a nap. lolBig thanks to the publisher and Bookish First for providing me with an advanced review copy.TW: depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts and disassociation. However, this book dealt with the mental health aspect so beautifully and with such grace, I do think it was dealt with with the utmost care and grace. The author explored these mental health issues in such a moving and creative way. I think this book could really help people who may be going through similar problems in their own life.To start with, the book is written in a wonderfully unique style. I can see that this wouldn't exactly be everyone's cup of tea, but it is definitely my jam. I love flowery, poetic writing. However, this book wasn't just any one way. It was at times raw and real and down-to-earth, but always there was a current of lusciousness running through it at all times. The writing is rich and it makes you want to chew on the author's words, savor them on your tongue for a bit.The first few chapters started out in a kind of strange tone, this may put some readers off before they even begin, so I urge you to push past that. The chapters are very short and addictive and the story picks up after only a few semi-weird pages. I promise, it gets real good. Keep going.I found this book to be addictive and hard to put down. I had to physically tear myself away from the book at one point, because I needed to stop but didn't want to. I think that has a little to do with the tiny chapters encouraging you to read just one more over and over and over again. lolI would not start this book late at night if I were you, because you'll probably want to finish it all in one sitting and then goodbye sleep.I felt that the story derailed just a bit towards the end as the main character's mental health was spiraling out of control, hence the 4 star rating, and not the 5 that I was anticipating. But I can definitely see and respect why the author chose to write it that way. It really gave you a sense of how the main character felt at that time. It just kind of stressed me out, personally, which, again, was probably the intended purpose anyway.A FANTASTIC DEBUT!I do recommend.
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  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    An in-depth look at intergenerational mental illness where you will physically FEEL what the character is feeling. Fans of Challenger Deep will enjoy this!
  • Annie Deo
    January 1, 1970
    Cross-posted to my blog.--This is a debut by an Australian author featuring an Australian teen in Wollongong – I don’t read as much #loveozya as I should, so I’m glad I was given a chance to read this. The book takes you on a journey through the fractured mindscape of our protagonist, Biz, as she teeters on the verge of a breakdown.As someone who has lived with depression for over a decade, I’m drawn to books that deal with mental health issues. What I really appreciate is that this is an #ownvo Cross-posted to my blog.--This is a debut by an Australian author featuring an Australian teen in Wollongong – I don’t read as much #loveozya as I should, so I’m glad I was given a chance to read this. The book takes you on a journey through the fractured mindscape of our protagonist, Biz, as she teeters on the verge of a breakdown.As someone who has lived with depression for over a decade, I’m drawn to books that deal with mental health issues. What I really appreciate is that this is an #ownvoices book so the themes of mental illness are handled sensitively and with a more realistic portrayal than I sometimes encounter. Biz is so believably portrayed and fleshed out that I choked up with tears on several occasions because her pain is so tangible, it leaps off the page and practically smothers you. I finished the book in a puddle of tears, but it was a cathartic reading experience that caused the good healing kind of crying jag.The beautiful lyrical writing is unpredictable and follows no rules, dipping into free verse to better express Biz’s state of mind. It may take some readers a bit to get used to, but it helps immerse you in Biz’s world more effectively and pull you along with her as she unravels.Grief feels like thisan okay day and a good day and an okay daythen a bad.Bad that follows and empties youBad like a sinkhole.It feels likean unrelenting urge to lay your head down on the tablewherever you are, whomever you are withIt feels likea night of vivid dreams and when you wake,all day you hold one dream closebecause in iteverything was back to how it once was.The way that Biz spirals down is deadly serious and puts her health in jeopardy as she engages in negative self-talk and suicidal ideation and a general lack of concern about living. But the events that trigger this aren’t overly dramatized – she’s never properly dealt with the death of her father, and then she has to face her best friend and tether to reality being banished to another town. These are normal life-events that a lot of people will have dealt with and it helps to drive home the message that mental illness can affect anyone. Do you feel alone in spite of being surrounded by almost eight billion people including twins who come into your room and kiss your face and a mum who brings you warm soy milk when you can’t sleep and a house with walls and a roof? Why are you so sad and empty when you have a house with walls and a roof and people who love you?Elizabeth?Why are you so ungrateful?Elizabeth?Why is it so hard for you to be happy? Biz has a loving mother and adorable twin siblings, a good home and support system, but that means nothing in the face of faulty brain chemistry and the other genetic, social and psychological factors that cause mental illness. I’ve written practically the exact same as the quoted passage above in my own journal and it feels so rewarding to see this character go through the same thing, experience the same lows and build herself back up.I love that Biz begins therapy sessions and that it’s depicted in such a realistic manner. Hollywood’s take on counselling makes it all about the psychologist who dispenses snappy advice and takes on an active role in chiding the patient and telling them what to do with their life. It always frustrates me how untrue and irresponsible those fictional therapists are because it’s not about them, it’s about the patient. Because we’re in Biz’s head, while she may not actively respond to the psychologist, we still see her internal responses and slow meandering steps on the path to recovery. There are a lot of setbacks, and that’s just how real life works, so her story doesn’t come with the pat formula of overcoming one obstacle and suddenly everything’s fine. Biz is a work-in-progress, and that’s okay.Moving away from Biz for a moment, I’m happy to see her mother portrayed as caring and compassionate while also struggling to understand her daughter’s condition and how best to care for her. There’s no injection of contrived drama by having her mother ice her out or disown her, in fact, as much as I’ve talked about how emotionally overwhelming this book can be when it draws you into Biz’s depressive state, it’s also a great comfort read because of her mother being so present and desperately trying to help her recover. And while Biz loses touch with her best friend, she manages to form another friendship with a delightful old lady named Sylvia as well as Jasper, who she knew from school. In the middle of her ongoing crisis, there are moments of hope and positivity to provide us with a bit of relief.There isn’t a lot of action in this book as the main focus is on Biz’s state of mind and how she relates to the people around her. Readers who prefer stories with fast-paced plots and tons of action may be a little lost, but Biz is such a relatable protagonist that I would recommend everyone try it out anyway because I honestly think this will help anyone who’s been in her shoes as well as help the people who know someone who’s been in her shoes.Pros: relatable protagonist, positive family relationships, wonderful development of platonic friendships, sensitive discussion of mental healthCons: ambiguous ending, lack of closureDisclaimer: Physical copy provided by publisher free for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • ellie
    January 1, 1970
    oh.”Life does kind of suck,” I say. And it’s true. Life is impossible, chaotic. It’s a maze of sorrow and sunlight; it can’t be mapped.We stand on the path, five or so steps away from the sea. I could run and jump and in a second, I’d be in all that water. And the sea would say, “What took you so long, Biz?”Stare into a fire for more than a minute and it’s clear we humans are ridiculous for thinking we’re solid. We are built from nothing, collapsible in an instant. We’re elements arranged, empty oh.”Life does kind of suck,” I say. And it’s true. Life is impossible, chaotic. It’s a maze of sorrow and sunlight; it can’t be mapped.We stand on the path, five or so steps away from the sea. I could run and jump and in a second, I’d be in all that water. And the sea would say, “What took you so long, Biz?”Stare into a fire for more than a minute and it’s clear we humans are ridiculous for thinking we’re solid. We are built from nothing, collapsible in an instant. We’re elements arranged, empty atoms ricocheting, atoms coming and going. We think we’re these tangible things, but really we’re just ghosts walking, dust waiting. Our insides are made of flickered, fickle light.Why are you so sad and empty when you have a house with walls and a roof and people who love you? Elizabeth? Why are you so ungrateful? Elizabeth? Why is it so hard for you to be happy?“You’re better,” and “I’m so proud.”Am I better? Can you be better when you’re still sad—long patches of sad swooping in at night when there aren’t any sounds to cover it? Are you better when you still feel blank, fog rising in you, empty spaces like those moors people walk on in British films? Are you better when, as you’re going through the motions—talking, laughing, listening, walking the dog, helping Mum with dinner—at the same time there’s this lost feeling walking beside you, so you can touch it, like a tongue on a tooth? Here’s the shape of it. Here’s the gap. Here’s the space where something good was. Here’s the want.
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  • Marilyn
    January 1, 1970
    Great Debut Novel about Mental Illness, Family, Young Love and FriendshipHow It Feels To Float by Helena Fox was written in quite a unique style. Its flowing prose captured my attention from the beginning and drew me in in a subtle way at first and then became more addictive as I got deeper into the story. The author, Helena Fox, drew from her own experiences of mental illness, to make How It Feels to Float believable and yet unpredictable. It was hard to put down once I started reading it. My e Great Debut Novel about Mental Illness, Family, Young Love and FriendshipHow It Feels To Float by Helena Fox was written in quite a unique style. Its flowing prose captured my attention from the beginning and drew me in in a subtle way at first and then became more addictive as I got deeper into the story. The author, Helena Fox, drew from her own experiences of mental illness, to make How It Feels to Float believable and yet unpredictable. It was hard to put down once I started reading it. My emotions were all over the place as the story progressed. The story took place in Australia, where Biz (a nickname for Elizabeth) was a young, adolescent girl attending high school. She lived with her mom and her twin siblings. Biz's father had passed away when she was only seven years old. One of Biz's problems was that her dad continued to show himself to her in unexpected and unpredictable ways as he floated in and out of her consciousness. This was something that Biz kept to herself and did not share with her family or friends. Biz had one true, best friend. Her name was Grace. They shared all their in-most feelings, discoveries and curiosities with each other. Biz and Grace went through the typical high school drama and exploration that normal eleventh grade girls go through. Biz began to question her sexual preferences and struggled with her identify of what she wanted and who she was. Her father's death impacted her far more than anyone realized including herself. Biz also forged friendships with Jasper, the new boy at school and with Silvia, a sweet, understanding, older woman whom she met in a photography class. Both became so important in Biz's recovery.How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox was inspiring yet a hard book to read at times. It closely explored inter-generational mental illness and how the signs are so often missed. It was so hard for me to stop reading once I began. Biz's thoughts were intimate and troubled. Her mom's struggles to help Biz were genuine and heart-wrenching. How It Feels to Float was a young girl's efforts to accept her father's death, move past grief and begin to heal and get better. This was categorized as a YA book, but I think anyone would benefit from reading it and enjoy it. It is very thought provoking. I recommend How It Feels to Float very highly and will look for more books by Helena Fox in the future. It was hard to accept that this was Helena Fox's first novel that she had ever written.Thank you Bookish First for providing me with this ARC of How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Elvina Zafril
    January 1, 1970
    How It Feels to Float is a heartbreaking story about love, grief, mental illness, LGBTQ, family and friendship. Biz is a young girl who is struggling with who she is. She has a lot in mind. She doesn’t know who she’s attracted to. Losing her father caused her a trauma. And that causes her mental illness issues. I just felt so bad for Biz. I understand the mental illness and how hard it is. I just can’t imagine how someone with mental illness cope with this issue. I can’t imagine how helpless the How It Feels to Float is a heartbreaking story about love, grief, mental illness, LGBTQ, family and friendship. Biz is a young girl who is struggling with who she is. She has a lot in mind. She doesn’t know who she’s attracted to. Losing her father caused her a trauma. And that causes her mental illness issues. I just felt so bad for Biz. I understand the mental illness and how hard it is. I just can’t imagine how someone with mental illness cope with this issue. I can’t imagine how helpless they feel.I loved the style of this book and I loved the setting. All the characters really made the book. The type of relationships in this book are something and you can’t find it in typical YA books.This book is beautiful. I love the way it was written. It almost brought me to tears. There are a few things that I need to address on how I feel about this book. I wish there are more clarification on certain things that happened in this book because they are not fully explained. For example, the history of Biz’s grandfather or Biz’s state of mind.To me this book is quite heavy because of the subject matter that might trigger some people. Overall, it was an amazing read.Disclaimer: I would like to thank Times Reads Malaysia for sending me a copy of How It Feels to Float in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Krystal
    January 1, 1970
    Yes look okay this hurt my heart and that is all.I am going away for four days and maybe when I get back I will have sense but right now my words are broken like in this book that had weird formatting and long sentencesthat hadno punctuationbut punctured my heart anyway. Full review to come.
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  • Kathy - Books & Munches
    January 1, 1970
    LGBT+, mental health and there seems to be a hint towards some kind of abuse in the summary? I think? As if the first two weren't plenty of reason for me to want to pick this up already!
  • Mari Johnston
    January 1, 1970
    This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.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.Helena Fox’s writing is beautiful and poetic. Lacking chapters, the novel is broken into incredibly short parts that flow This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.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.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.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.
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  • Toya
    January 1, 1970
    When it comes to YA books, I think some of the topics that need to be discussed more often is grief and mental illness. It is incredibly important to such a vulnerable community, and from that aspect of things, this book deserves both my praise and admiration. However, I had an incredibly difficult time finishing this book because it just did not hold my attention. Elizabeth ‘Biz’ is a 16-year-old teenager who in addition to dealing with the typical drama of every day high school life is still g When it comes to YA books, I think some of the topics that need to be discussed more often is grief and mental illness. It is incredibly important to such a vulnerable community, and from that aspect of things, this book deserves both my praise and admiration. However, I had an incredibly difficult time finishing this book because it just did not hold my attention. Elizabeth ‘Biz’ is a 16-year-old teenager who in addition to dealing with the typical drama of every day high school life is still grieving the tragic death of her father, which occurred when she was younger. To make matters worse, she sees him every single day (sort of like a ghost or apparition but not in a haunting sort of way) and they even have conversations (even though they consist of Biz’s dad telling her about her childhood and how she wasn’t meant to be). Everything changed for Biz the day her and Grace got drunk with a bunch of friends at the beach. Biz ended up drifting into the ocean under a daze, which required recitation from the hot new student Jasper. It only gets worse when the school starts spreading rumors that she lost her virginity to one of the idiot jocks, labeling her as easy and damaged goods. Even Grace retreats from Biz. As the story progresses, another incident lands both Grace and Biz in jail, which is Biz’s breaking point. She used to be a good kid and always obeyed her parents. Her life is falling apart. She can’t trust her own brain, so she drops out of school since she can’t get out of bed. The rest of the story is Biz trying to find a way to get her life back together. Like I said at the beginning of the review, I think that this is incredibly important for someone going through something like this, especially for the age group that is targeted. For me, I honestly felt like I was just floating through the pages waiting for the book to end. As someone who has also lost a parent, I had a hard time relating to Biz because my grief looked so much different. This is NOT to say that hers was wrong or anything like that because we all grieve differently. Therefore, while this book was not for me, I do still recommend this book for readers who are looking to read more about grief and depression.Thank you Bookish First and Dial Books for gifting me this ARC. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    4 starsHow It Feels To Float is the sort of book you’d wish you’d read sooner. It successful captures feelings that some of us can never put to words and is so raw and hopeful. It’ll definitely leave you thinking and Biz’s story is one that’s going to stay with me for a long time.This was definitely a heavy book about depression, death, suicide and PTSD among other things so take note.This was such a quiet and touching novel! The writing style was so lovely. It was kind of a slow paced, wistful, 4 starsHow It Feels To Float is the sort of book you’d wish you’d read sooner. It successful captures feelings that some of us can never put to words and is so raw and hopeful. It’ll definitely leave you thinking and Biz’s story is one that’s going to stay with me for a long time.This was definitely a heavy book about depression, death, suicide and PTSD among other things so take note.This was such a quiet and touching novel! The writing style was so lovely. It was kind of a slow paced, wistful, mournful kind of tone, and the writing while to the point, still felt like a breath of fresh air. Fox has a really unique and distinct voice that I can’t quite describe but I can tell you that I loved it so much!There’s so much that this book touches on! Mental illness, sexuality, loss, friendship, grief. Biz is dealing with a lot so it’s hard to pinpoint the central point to this book. I’d say it is majorly a book about her dealing with her emotions/grief with losing her Dad. Yet it’s also about her trying to navigate through life, finding a place with her friends, figuring out her sexuality and dealing with her mental health.+ just wow. The way in which Fox writes presents these issues is amazing. It’s a real and true portrayal that felt so unflinchingly authentic. The exploration of mental illness was done with care and so well. A lot of people will be able to connect with this novel.
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  • Jenny (Bookbookowl)
    January 1, 1970
    Thankyou to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of How it Feels to Float, in exchange for an honest review.How it Feels to Float wasn’t really like any book I’ve read before. The writing style was really different and it did take me a while to get into the swing of it, but once I did it suited the story so well. This is a book about grief and a book about mental health. It’s a book about bullying and a book about the affect all those things have on both the person experiencing t Thankyou to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of How it Feels to Float, in exchange for an honest review.How it Feels to Float wasn’t really like any book I’ve read before. The writing style was really different and it did take me a while to get into the swing of it, but once I did it suited the story so well. This is a book about grief and a book about mental health. It’s a book about bullying and a book about the affect all those things have on both the person experiencing them, and the people around them. It’s not really a book about overcoming these things though. I know for some people they may not enjoy that aspect of it, but I did. I think it portrayed the reality of how these things don’t always have a happy ending, or a sad ending, they are not linear timelines where you go from not well to well or not coping to coping, on an upward slope. Often that slope is a mess of ups and downs and circles back around.Biz is confused about her sexuality, fitting in with her friends, how to deal with the grief of losing her father and whether seeing and talking to his ghost is something she should keep a secret forever. Watching someone so young attempting to deal with all of the trials in her life was heartbreaking.How it Feels to Float is the type of book you sit back later and realise there are so many unanswered questions, answers you wish you had, but again, I think that suited the style of the book. Everything wasn’t wrapped up neatly, because life isn’t wrapped up neatly.MY BLOG ~ INSTAGRAM
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  • Suziey
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great book. The story is so relevant and relatable. Biz can't control her thoughts. At times, they get the better of her. As her mental health begins to unravel, we get a firsthand look at how she experiences the world. What I really liked about this story was how accurate the portrayal of mental illness is. Biz's thoughts, feelings, and actions, are authentic. And you just don't read about it, you feel it. The writing mimics the unwinding of Biz's thoughts. This style has triggered me This is a great book. The story is so relevant and relatable. Biz can't control her thoughts. At times, they get the better of her. As her mental health begins to unravel, we get a firsthand look at how she experiences the world. What I really liked about this story was how accurate the portrayal of mental illness is. Biz's thoughts, feelings, and actions, are authentic. And you just don't read about it, you feel it. The writing mimics the unwinding of Biz's thoughts. This style has triggered me before and I was worried that this book would do the same. Thankfully, it didn't. So I was able to enjoy this read somewhat at ease. But it just goes to show how incredibly well-written, and lyrical this novel is. The book delves into aspects of intergenerational mental illness. It does this in a subtle way. As the reader only becomes aware of it as Biz begins to learn about it herself. And it's something that Biz struggles with. We see the effects of it throughout the novel.In a nutshell, this an emotional journey. And a story that leaves you with many questions. As a reader, I was left wondering whether Biz's experiences were real or imagined. Once again reinforcing the idea, that mental illness isn't as clear-cut as it seems.A beautiful book.*Thank you BookishFirst for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*
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  • PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
    January 1, 1970
    Elizabeth/Biz is mentally ill which affects every part of her life. Though she’s never given a diagnosis she hallucinates, has difficulty distinguishing psychosis from reality, is profoundly depressed and often wants to die. Having seen her dead father perched on her bed or across the room giving her advice, she doesn’t want to lose him. HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is filled with beautiful prose, but is is a painfully slow, arduous read. Helena Fox, who is mentally ill with several of Biz’s condition, Elizabeth/Biz is mentally ill which affects every part of her life. Though she’s never given a diagnosis she hallucinates, has difficulty distinguishing psychosis from reality, is profoundly depressed and often wants to die. Having seen her dead father perched on her bed or across the room giving her advice, she doesn’t want to lose him. HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is filled with beautiful prose, but is is a painfully slow, arduous read. Helena Fox, who is mentally ill with several of Biz’s condition, knows how to create a character bogged down with the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality compounded by severe depression. Because of Elizabeth’s psychosis, she’s an unreliable narrator. The further into the book, the more I couldn’t distinguish Biz’s reality from a more objective truth. I didn’t enjoy reading HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT, but probably would have devoured it if I was still severely depressed, when bleak books about sadness made me feel less alone.I don’t think HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT has wide appeal, but do think to those whom the book speaks, they will love it. There are better, more hopefully books that appeal to a broader audience like Kathleen Glasgow’s GIRL IN PIECES.
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  • Monica
    January 1, 1970
    This novel was extremely powerful! Biz is a likeable character. She is a teenager living in Australia. Her father has passed and she lives with her mom and younger twin siblings. Biz is a vegan and is inseparable from her friend Grace. Biz is going through some typical teenage angst trying to figure things out when one night something happens which causes her to lose it. Biz spirals and tries to put herself back together to stop herself from floating out of her body. I cried several times at th This novel was extremely powerful! Biz is a likeable character. She is a teenager living in Australia. Her father has passed and she lives with her mom and younger twin siblings. Biz is a vegan and is inseparable from her friend Grace. Biz is going through some typical teenage angst trying to figure things out when one night something happens which causes her to lose it. Biz spirals and tries to put herself back together to stop herself from floating out of her body. I cried several times at this novel as I just felt so bad for Biz. The characters in this novel really made the book. I also loved the setting. The most important part of this novel for me though was how I could really see the impact of mental illness. I understand mental illness but to see it through a character's eyes like this was really an ah ha moment. I really began to understand just how hard it is. How helpless you feel. Just an extremely powerful, emotional ride. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Dipankar Bhadra
    January 1, 1970
    Intergenerational mental illness এর ওপর বেসড করে গলপটা দাঁডিযে থাকলেও... আসলে এই গলপ হলো খুঁজে বেডানোর। জীবন থেকে "আশা" আর "ভালোবাসা" সারাজীবনের জনয চলে যাওযার পরও তাদের খোঁজ চালিযে যাওযার কথা শোনায এ গলপ। কেমন লাগলো বলা খুব মুশকিল। জানি বুঝতে পারছেন না। দাঁডান.. একটু বুঝিযে বলি, ভেবে নিন আপনি জলে সাঁতার কাটতে নেমেছেন। কোনো লকষয ছাডাই কাটছেন.. সাঁতরে ওপারে যাবার কোনো ইচছে ও আপনার নেই। তবুও আপনি সাঁতার কাটা বনধ করতে পারছেন না। এই বইটা পডতে গিযে আমার অবসথা সেরকমই হযেছে। কেন পডছি.. কি জানার জনয পডছ Intergenerational mental illness এর ওপর বেসড করে গল্পটা দাঁড়িয়ে থাকলেও... আসলে এই গল্প হলো খুঁজে বেড়ানোর। জীবন থেকে "আশা" আর "ভালোবাসা" সারাজীবনের জন্য চলে যাওয়ার পরও তাদের খোঁজ চালিয়ে যাওয়ার কথা শোনায় এ গল্প।‌ কেমন লাগলো বলা খুব মুশকিল। জানি বুঝতে পারছেন না। দাঁড়ান.. একটু বুঝিয়ে বলি, ভেবে নিন আপনি জলে সাঁতার কাটতে নেমেছেন। কোনো ‌লক্ষ্য ছাড়াই কাটছেন.. সাঁতরে ওপারে যাবার কোনো ইচ্ছে ও আপনার নেই। তবুও আপনি সাঁতার কাটা বন্ধ করতে পারছেন‌ না। এই ব‌ইটা পড়তে গিয়ে আমার অবস্থা সেরকমই হয়েছে। কেন পড়ছি.. কি জানার জন্য পড়ছি ভুলে গিয়ে শুধু পড়ে যাচ্ছিলাম। ভালো খারাপের অনুভূতিটাই কেমন যেন লোপ পেয়ে গেছিল।
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  • Sabrina
    January 1, 1970
    I read How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox (an #ownvoices debut author!) after seeing a blurb that suggested the main character might be queer (one of the themes I seek out in children’s and YA lit). Without getting too spoiler-y: as it turns out, this book is not only about an Australian teen protagonist exploring her sexual orientation. It is also about lineages of trauma, blood and chosen family, and the small miscommunications that turn loved ones into strangers, and it is a much different-- I read How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox (an #ownvoices debut author!) after seeing a blurb that suggested the main character might be queer (one of the themes I seek out in children’s and YA lit). Without getting too spoiler-y: as it turns out, this book is not only about an Australian teen protagonist exploring her sexual orientation. It is also about lineages of trauma, blood and chosen family, and the small miscommunications that turn loved ones into strangers, and it is a much different--and much stronger--book as a result of its complexity. Biz (short for Elizabeth) narrates her life in first-person present tense, but frequently interrupts herself to ruminate about past events, complex math problems that address the mysteries of the universe, things that make her anxious, or the way inanimate objects seem to speak to her. She also regularly interacts with her (dead) father, who tends to appear to her when her anxiety is spiraling--which, she comes to learn, he experienced himself when he was alive. Biz’s unreliable narration adds tension and intrigue to the story, which shifts rapidly and explosively from what resembles a contemporary school story--complete with crushes, cliques, social drama, and a mysterious new boy--to an unexpectedly lonely, disorienting, profound, and ultimately hopeful exploration of hereditary mental illness and recovery. As someone whose own lived experience has overlapped somewhat with Biz’s, I will say I found it hard to read at times, because Fox has so successfully captured the internal dialogue and negative self-talk that come hand in hand with feelings of anxiety and isolation (which is not at all a critique). Her writing is raw, unflinching, immediate, and unpredictable: perfect for a novel that explores the perils and pleasures of feeling deeply while emphasizing the importance of finding comfort and stability amidst life’s uncertainties and contradictions. This is one I’ll be thinking about for a while. (Reviewed from an ARC)
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    ☆☆ 3.5 stars ☆☆I was so excited to hear that this book was written by someone who lives in Wollongong and was even more excited when this story was set in Wollongong because as a local, I knew all of the landmarks. So excited to see my smol town represented in YA... represent 🙌As for the book itself, I loved how it was #ownvoices. It depicted such a harrowing depiction of mental illness and examined the intergenerational nature of mental illness which I haven't seen before. The writing was beaut ☆☆ 3.5 stars ☆☆I was so excited to hear that this book was written by someone who lives in Wollongong and was even more excited when this story was set in Wollongong because as a local, I knew all of the landmarks. So excited to see my smol town represented in YA... represent 🙌As for the book itself, I loved how it was #ownvoices. It depicted such a harrowing depiction of mental illness and examined the intergenerational nature of mental illness which I haven't seen before. The writing was beautiful, however; I struggled to connect at times due to the fantastical nature tw: loss of a parent, depression, psychosis, panic attacks
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  • Kazia
    January 1, 1970
    Man, I read this over a few days and I couldn't stop thinking about it, even when I wasn't reading. It's gripping and real and just completely punched me in the heart.
  • Jenny Brown
    January 1, 1970
    Lol what a mystery haha. Great job Helen
  • Kales
    January 1, 1970
    WARNING: There are triggers for panic attacks, suicide, suicidal thoughts, hospitalization and PTSD in this book.I am oddly amazed by this book. What a beautiful work of fiction. I'm mainly impressed by the language and the writing. It was an honest take on mental health and I was mesmerized. Honestly, I picked up this book because of the title and the cover. Something about it caught my eye and all I could think was, "There is something about this book and I need to figure out what that somethi WARNING: There are triggers for panic attacks, suicide, suicidal thoughts, hospitalization and PTSD in this book.I am oddly amazed by this book. What a beautiful work of fiction. I'm mainly impressed by the language and the writing. It was an honest take on mental health and I was mesmerized. Honestly, I picked up this book because of the title and the cover. Something about it caught my eye and all I could think was, "There is something about this book and I need to figure out what that something is." It's a special book, I'll give it that. The honesty is brutal and necessary and worthwhile. I haven't read about mental health (mainly depression, anxiety and PTSD) written about in such a fluid and poetic manner. Biz's voice was so prominent throughout the story. She never faltered--at least in that--and I felt I could also hear her. I couldn't always understand her as many things were murky in regards to the plot line. I get the impression that was on purpose but it was annoying at points and pulled me out of the fluidity of the language. I loved the relationship between Jasper and Biz. That was something unique that I enjoyed as it developed over the course of the book. That he has his own story and how much he loved her and yet you never really found out why...he just did and that was refreshing. I liked how sexuality wasn't a huge deal in the book. There was diverse sexual perspectives but it wasn't a central plot point; it was just present and normal. And the mental health was rough...it was hard to read at points. Hard to admit how much I related to it but that is why this book was good and is necessary. It shows a voice that needs to be heard and it shows it well.Conclusion: To Buy in Hardcover
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  • Kristy ▪ The Reader Dragon
    January 1, 1970
    Actual Rating: 4.5Oh me oh my where do I start?This debut novel is so complicated yet straightforward, and so so so heartbreakingly beautiful. Told in a poetic style, we see the world through the eyes of a young girl named Biz who is struggling with grief and her sexuality, and whose life is slowly unravelling as she succumbs to mental illness."And it's so clear how far I have fallen. How far I am from where the stars are."The story itself is a real slow burner, but I found myself burning throug Actual Rating: 4.5Oh me oh my where do I start?This debut novel is so complicated yet straightforward, and so so so heartbreakingly beautiful. Told in a poetic style, we see the world through the eyes of a young girl named Biz who is struggling with grief and her sexuality, and whose life is slowly unravelling as she succumbs to mental illness."And it's so clear how far I have fallen. How far I am from where the stars are."The story itself is a real slow burner, but I found myself burning through page after page without even realising. A big part of this is the supporting cast. They play such an important part in Biz's life and how the story unfolds, leading to the shuddering and stunted road to recovery. One character in particular felt so real and comforting that I wanted them all for myself.I can't peg it exactly, but this book feels reminiscent of Breathing Under Water, The Memory Book, and We Were Liars - it's a book that makes you truly feel for the character, and feel the emotions they're feeling.This is certainly not a book to be taken lightly - dealing with grief, depression and suicide, it can be quite confronting at times. For me, this book came along at the best/worst time, and the words simply fell off the page and hit me like a ton of bricks. But even with it's hard-hitting force, it has the ability to lift some of the weight from our hearts and show us that there might be some hope left for us after all.
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  • Theresa
    January 1, 1970
    Biz is struggling. She has her photography and her friend Grace and a woman named Sylvia who is there for her. Her father passed away but he still visits her. She meets a boy named Jasper and she goes on adventures with him. She knows her brain works differently, but she is afraid to tell Jasper that. But she ends up having to face it all and deal with it. This book showed what it is like to struggle with a mental illness, how you can seem normal on the outside but know that things going on insi Biz is struggling. She has her photography and her friend Grace and a woman named Sylvia who is there for her. Her father passed away but he still visits her. She meets a boy named Jasper and she goes on adventures with him. She knows her brain works differently, but she is afraid to tell Jasper that. But she ends up having to face it all and deal with it. This book showed what it is like to struggle with a mental illness, how you can seem normal on the outside but know that things going on inside your head are not what they should be. Biz is a likable, sympathetic, very relatable character who I grew to care about quickly and I wanted her to be ok, I wanted to help her and be there for her. I found her journey both heartbreaking and beautifully uplifting.Biz is also vegan. I don't remember ever having read a book with a vegan character, but Helena Fox does a terrific job of showing how easy it is to be vegan and how being vegan doesn't have to set you apart and make you different. I love that this is a subtle part of the book, but it makes a strong point.This book made me see things through a different perspective and made me understand more fully what it is like to struggle with mental illness. It made me more sympathetic and compassionate.
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