Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn

Breathing Underwater - Alex Flinn
Telling her that stuff was a mistake. It’s easier to fake it. When you fake it for sixteen years, it becomes part of you, something you don’t think about.

When a story is so perfect good it leaves you breathless, where do you start describing it? Do you start with the delicate plot that have you hanging on for every word? Or maybe with the provocative protagonist? Do you begin with the powerful message the story conveys? I don't know. At least not with Breathing Underwater. So I apologize in advance if nothing of this makes sense.

If there's one thing I must say about this novel, it's that every teenager should read this, boy or girl. I find it strange youths these days are receiving the wrong message from so many books (Twilight, Hush Hush, Beautiful Disaster, FSoG, etc.) about how healthy relationships look. Abuse is so much more than just punches and slaps, so the argument that just because a man or woman doesn't hit his/hers significant other it's not abuse, is bullshit. In Breathing Underwater we are inside Nick's head, and we meet him in a courtroom where he gets a restraining order toward his ex-girlfriend, Caitlin. He has abused her in more ways than one. The thing is, Nick doesn't see it that way, at least not at first. From the first page Nick's character catches the reader's attention, and throughout the story we see him come to terms with what he's done and takes responsibility for his actions. We're on such an intimate level with this young boy, meeting all his troubles in what other's consider a perfect life. Nick is victim of abuse as well. Only his is by his father. What Nick did was wrong, so obviously wrong. Yet, it's easy to sympathize with his character, and the portrayal of his inner anger and insecurities is perfection. Yes, I said it. Perfection. 

I'm not quite sure how to express my admiration for this story. While the characters are far from perfect, the overall impression is that the story is perfect. It's a carefully drafted story that is so relevant today in the midst of abusive relationships that are romanticized. But it was not just because it's a realistic portrayal of abusive relationships that made me rate this book 5 stars. No, there's something more about it. Something so intense, so honest... so raw, it blew me away. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, not right now with my feelings all over the place. But it's there. That little extra something. And that little extra something makes Breathing Underwater perfect in all its imperfection.