Tuesday, September 6, 2011
"Breathing Underwater" and "Diva" by Alex Flinn
Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn tells the story of Nick Andreas, a sixteen-year boy in trouble for hitting his girlfriend, Caitlin. The novel opens on Alex’s court date where he is sentenced to an anger management class, weekly journal writing and he is no longer allowed to go near Caitlin. Through his first person accounts of what’s currently happening around him and journal entries that tell the reader how he got to this point, we find out that Nick was abandoned by his mother and is a part of a cycle of violence as been abused by his father while growing up. Nick’s journal entries are quite blunt and we find out just how controlling he is of Caitlin and how his anger escalates to the breaking point. We also see how he gets on a path of recovery. It was interesting to read a book that wasn’t from the victim’s point of view and to get inside Nick’s head. The picked this book up because the description on the back caught my interest. I’m very glad I did because it was a great book!
Diva wasn’t quite what I expected. I anticipated a re-write of Breathing Underwater, only this book would be from Caitlin’s point of view. Instead, the events in this book take place after Breathing Underwater. The reader follows Caitlin on her journey auditioning for and attending the Miami High School of the Arts where she is studying to become an opera singer. Like Nick, she keeps a record of what’s going on in her life, but instead of a notebook, she records her thoughts on her blog. Each blog is started with her mood, the music she’s listening to, and her current weight. Though this book is not solely about her weight problems, it is certainly a theme throughout. Caitlin is a very real character. She has a struggling relationship with her mother (and her mother’s relationship with a married man), has difficulty making new friends but is still working hard to achieve her dreams. I feel that this is a book that teens can easily identify with and can read even if they haven’t read Breathing Underwater.