Awards-worthy and more: While this debut is a literary tour de force, the emotions that propel it ring so true and deep, and the voice is so warm and accessible, that it brims with retail appeal too.
For fans of Jandy Nelson and Nina LaCour: Like these YA virtuosas, Helena Fox explores heavy topics with writing that pulls you in and lifts you up—there’s levity and lightness amidst the hard stuff.
Grief, mental illness, and magical realism: Complex issues are expertly excavated here with the lightest touch of magical realism. The result is deeply moving and immersive; you just want to live inside this novel.
Sexuality explored: Throughout the novel, Biz questions and explores her sexual identity in a way that enhances her main plight without becoming her main plight; rather, it’s part of the texture of her adolescent experience.
Own-voices: Helena Fox writes from her own lifelong experience living with mental illness and as a person who identifies along the LGBTQIA spectrum.
A passionate educator: Helena is a creative writing teacher for young people and considers it her life’s work to help young writers find their own voices.
“[How It Feels to Float] explores intergenerational mental illness in a way that is nothing short of exquisite.” —PopSugar
“A profoundly moving story about grief, loss, and love that will take your breath away. Helena Fox is a writer to be reckoned with.” —Kathleen Glasgow, author of Girl in Pieces
“If you’ve read Anna Borges’s story for The Outline ”I Am Not Always Very Attached To Being Alive,“ you are perhaps already acquainted with the idea of ”treading to stay afloat“ when living with mental illness. In How It Feels To Float, author Helena Fox tells the story of a young woman floating through life, struggling to hide her dark thoughts and a past marked by intergenerational mental illness. —Bustle
“How It Feels to Float is technically a YA novel, but I’m not talking Twilight YA. I’m talking give-this-to-all-your-twenty-something-friends-immediately YA. This book will relate to anyone that’s lived through the confusing mind-f*ck that is being a high school girl. More than that, it tackles mental health, depression, sexual identity, and anxiety with beauty and empathy as protagonist Biz comes to terms with the death of her father amid a devastating social fall-out.” —Cosmopolitan.com
”Beautifully written, Biz’s story (of dark thoughts, grief and questioning her sexuality) is subtly revealed and immensely satisfying as she slowly unravels and puts herself together again.“ —Girls’ Life
”Teens who don’t want to be labeled, who don’t conform to checklists of attributes or fall into tidy boxes, will relate hard to this book about a girl who wants, very badly at times, to float away, but who ultimately finds herself…Full of life, resplendent with sensory details, lush descriptions, clever and witty narration, and a beating heart that will make yours swell with feeling.” —B&N Teen Blog
★ “Lyrical and profoundly affecting, providing a nuanced account of the hereditary effects of trauma. Haunting.” —Kirkus (starred review)
★ “Biz is smart, funny, and self-deprecating…[How It Feels to Float is] a masterful portrayal of mental illness that illuminates the complex interplay between emotional trauma and the mind’s subsequent recoil. And the writing is just beautiful.” —Booklist (starred review)
★ “Exquisite…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.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
★ “Fox writes with superb understanding and tenderness…The poignant depiction of depression is leavened by secondary characters who love Biz, ranging from Jasper’s photographer grandmother to Jasper himself and even to Biz’s doomed dad, who may have lost to his demons but who has a larky beauty that lights up the pages…. Ambiguity enhances the beautiful, unsteady shimmer of Biz’s story.” —BCCB (starred review)
★ “This is a frank story of mental illness, loss, and sexual identity, and Fox responsibly concludes her story with information and support services for readers facing similar issues. How It Feels to Float is a beautifully crafted story of finding hope and love when both appear to be gone forever.” —BookPage (starred review)
“A YA The Bell Jar with a ghostly twist, [and an] honest, nuanced portrayal of grief and life with mental illness…. A mesmerizing and timely debut.” —Bustle
“This book will explode you into atoms, put you back together, and return the new shape of you to earth. Alive with sensation and rich in thought and feeling, How it Feels to Float intensively explores what it’s like to be here now.” —Margo Lanagan, author of Tender Morsels
“Impossibly beautiful, life-affirming, profound. This is not a book; it is a work of art.” —Kerry Kletter, author of The First Time She Drowned
“Every now and then you pick up a novel and you know you’ve found something wonderful—a glorious voice, a character you adore. Helena Fox’s novel delivers. It is exquisite. Read it.” —Cath Crowley, author of Words in Deep Blue
“It is a testament to Helena Fox’s immense skill as a writer that all the disparate elements come together seamlessly in an intense, intimate portrait of a teenage girl. Like Biz in the darkroom, the author dodges and burns, keeping her characters moving, exposing them to the light.” —The Saturday Paper
“A perfect, surreal exploration of mental illness and grief. Fox’s writing is poetry, bringing the reader to the brink of Biz’s madness and back again as she finds new ways to make meaning, and new people to make it with…. How It Feels to Float is a visceral reading experience that captures the way in which many teens struggle with mental illness. It is a lesson in acceptance and understanding, and readers will be deeply moved.” —Books+Publishing
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