cover image How It Feels to Float

How It Feels to Float

Helena Fox. Dial, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-55429-5

Set in Wollongong, Australia, Fox’s exquisite debut offers an intimate portrayal of a teenager navigating familial and social complexities while living with an undiagnosed mental illness. Biz, 17, blames herself for her father’s death when she was seven (“I am why he was sad”), and she doesn’t tell anyone that he remains a visible, often comforting presence in her life. Biz has her posse of friends, including her best friend Grace, whom she once kissed, and who supports Biz as she begins to explore her sexual identity. But a drunken beach party incident leads to her dramatic expulsion from the group and catapults her into suicidal depression. Biz drops out of school, begins clinical treatment, and makes unexpected new friends, including Jasper, a teen with challenges of his own. However, her ongoing hallucinations, panic attacks, and disassociations, in which she has no memory of incidents others report, leave her increasingly perplexed about her experiences, until she reaches a crisis point. Through lyrical first-person narration, Fox empathically conveys the hereditary nature of Biz’s illness, its disorienting manifestations, and the limitations and power of love to heal. Ages 14–up. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (May)