Book Club Pick: April 2018
Title: Breathing Underwater
Author: Alex Flinn
Series: Sequel – Diva (2006)
Country: United States of America
First Published: 2001
To his friends, popular and handsome sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas has led a charmed life. But the guys in Nick’s anger management class know differently. So does his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Now it looks like the only person who doesn’t realize just how from perfect Nick’s life has become is Nick himself.
Sixteen-year-old Miami high school honour student Nick Andreas is in court following an assault on his former girlfriend Caitlin McCourt.
The judge grants a request for restraining order and orders Nick to attend six months counselling, classes on family violence and dealing with anger. She also orders Nick to keep a journal writing five hundred words each week detailing what happened between him and Caitlin from the first time he saw her until his day in court.
The novel follows Nick in present day as he attends a family violence class, returns to school where he ostracised by fellow students, and his home life with his father. It is also interspersed with Nick’s journal entries about his past relationship with Caitlin.
It is interesting that the novel is written as a first person narrative from the perpetrator’s point-of-view rather than the victim.
Nick’s own father is abusive both physically and psychologically. In this the novel is addressing the idea about the idea of circle of domestic violence. Nick is a victim of his father’s abuse, and while at times Flinn offers a sympathetic portrayal of Nick it is clear that he is responsible for his own actions.
It also explores of how difficult it can be to leave an abusive and controlling relationship. Although Caitlin does eventually remove herself from the situation and seek help.
A tragic event leads Nick to understand and accept his behaviour and make attempts to seriously seek help to change.
There are a few moments that don’t ring quite true. For example, the interaction between Judge Lehman and Nick is cliche.
This was Flinn’s debut novel. She has gone onto write many other realistic fiction novels, but she is probably better known for her modern fairytale retellings, including Beastly (2007, ‘Beauty and the Beast’), A Kiss in Time (2009, ‘Sleeping Beauty’), and Towering (2012, ‘Rapunzel’).
Click here to read my review on Cloaked, a mash up / modern retelling of The Frog Prince, The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Six Swans, The Golden Bird, The Valiant Tailor, The Salad, and The Fisherman and His Wife.
In 2006 Flinn released a sequel Diva, which followed Caitlin as she puts her relationship with Nick behind her.
Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.