Two stories about water babies which could not be more different. Girl Out of Water is a wonderful British comedy with a loveable but awkward teenage protagonist, while Breathing Under Water is an evocative Australian story about grief and healing.
Girl Out of Water – Nat Luurtsema
2nd June 2016, Walker Books
320 pages, 5/5 stars
Lou Brown’s life isn’t going the way she planned. Her best friend succeeded in the Olympic time trials and is off to an impressive new school for swimmers, while Lou failed spectacularly. Not only does she no longer have a best friend, she has no hobby; swimming was her everything, and now she doesn’t really have anything.
It might sound sad from that brief synopsis, but this book is absolutely hysterical! Lou is funny and awkward, and she is taking all this bad luck in her stride. One afternoon she meets three boys who beg for her help in learning an underwater dance routine – they want to enter Britain’s Hidden Talent.
I didn’t want to put this book down! I love all of the characters, but Lou is especially wonderful. Although it is light-hearted, there are some more serious elements, as it becomes apparent that Hannah isn’t coping very well with the pressure of her new school. This book is the kind of British comedy I cannot get enough of!
Breathing Under Water – Sophie Hardcastle
12th July 2016, Hachette Australia
320 pages, 4/5 stars
Growing up in a coastal town, it was inevitable that twins Grace and Ben would surf. Ben is a rising star in the sport, and the golden child whom everybody adores. Grace feels like she is the moon to his sun, only a reflection of his light. The two share everything – friends, classes, surfing.
In their last year of school, everything unravels. Ben is no longer there, and Grace must learn to shine on her own. The varied ways in which Grace, her friends, and her family deal with their grief are portrayed emotionally and beautifully. It is a reminder that everyone copes with sadness differently, and no one way is right for everyone.
My favourite scenes were those depicting Grace in the water, especially when she is alone. The soothing nature of the sea is lyrically described. This is a story about life and death, and learning to live through overwhelming grief. It is sad and angry, but also incredibly hopeful about the future.
Humour or sadness? What feeling do you prefer a book to evoke?