Review: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

Review: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah AlexanderTitle: The Art of Not Breathing
Author: Sarah Alexander
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Rating: three-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.


❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃

Review: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander is a book that honestly had so much potential! It is about a girl who tries to remember her brother’s disappearance and even incorporates free diving. However, the main character seems emotionless and makes some pretty bad choices, which made the book a lot less enjoyable.

❀ Flashbacks

The Art of Not Breathing tells the story of a girl named Elsie whose twin brother disappeared at the beach when they were eleven. She has tried to remember details about his disappearance, but has had no luck. Then, she is introduced to free diving and sees a new chance to figure out what happened to her brother. I really enjoyed the use of flashbacks as Elsie gets closer to the truth and her determination to know the full story.

❀ Free Diving is Explored

One of my favourite aspects of The Art of Not Breathing is the free diving. The way that it is incorporated to trigger Elsie’s memories was really interesting to read about. I especially enjoyed how careful Elsie and her crew are to dive carefully. She wants to go down to this massive drop-off to look for her brother, but is able to withhold until she has enough training. I honestly know nothing about free diving, so learning about all the equipment and safety precautions was fascinating.

❀ Main Character Makes Poor Decisions

Although I enjoyed so much about The Art of Not Breathing, I had some problems with Elsie. I didn’t like a lot of the decisions she made throughout the book. She also didn’t seem to have any emotions at all. Her feelings weren’t really described, so she just does things emotionlessly. It is really hard to connect with a character who doesn’t feel things. But what I really didn’t enjoy about Elsie was her habit of spying on people, like her brother and his girlfriend. She literally watched them through the crack of a door once, which I found to be really creepy. The main character has a big influence on whether or not I enjoy a book, and unfortunately, Elsie didn’t really do it for me.

❀ Not for me

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander is about the search for a missing brother and free diving. I enjoyed so much about this book, but unfortunately, the main character was not one of them. I feel like this book had so much potential, it just wasn’t for me.

Book Quotes: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

“Shame washes over me. If he were here and that happened, would I really save him?”

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About The Candid Cover

Olivia ❀ YA book blogger, Starbucks lover, novice New Yorker, & professional bibliophile.

10 thoughts on “Review: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

  1. Jaime Lynn says:

    This is really disappointing. When I saw your teaser post about this one, I was excited. Freediving sounds awesome, not that I would ever do it. Now, I think this is one that I will pass on. I don’t do well with books when I can’t fall in love with the MC. This sounds like it would be one of those times. I may have to read it just for the diving parts, though!

  2. Jessica Iskey says:

    I enjoyed reading each of the reviews of this book. It sounds like there are some good things about it and some bad. I honestly thought that there would be better reviews because of all the praise that it has gotten. To each is own, I guess.
    Thank you.

  3. Elle says:

    Great review! I’m so disappointed that this was an underwhelming read for you. It does sound like an amazing concept to explore and the free diving aspect sounds fascinating. It is a bit difficult to get past a MC you don’t particularly like.

  4. Tika says:

    My friend had read this a couple of months ago, and she complained about it so much, that I told her she can go ahead and unleash her feelings on me with spoilers. When she was done, I knew this wouldn’t have been the story for me. I received the arc for review, and I know for a fact that I definitely would’ve had a huge problem with the MC, as well as the underwhelming reveal surrounding what happened to her brother. I’ve had enough DNF reviews for the week lol

    • Candid Cover says:

      You are such a great friend to allow her to let go and spoil the story for you. It has definitely been one of those books that I just sort of felt could have been amazing and then fell flat with that character.

  5. Vivi M. says:

    Nice review! However, I can tell this won’t be the book for me only by reading the first sentence in the blurb.

  6. Stephanie says:

    I’m not sure if I would enjoy this. The idea of it sounds great, but I need an emotional connection to the characters.

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