Freshness redefined

Debut author Helena Fox explores the places of loss in our lives and honours those who hold us tightly when the violent waves want to tug us out to sea.


Image credits: penguinteen.com

Mohd Haroon Siddiqi

The pandemic has brought greater focus on mental health issues and more tomes are being written on the same, considered something not to be discussed. This story is about a little girl who is struggling at an early stage. Be it her friend Grace whom she kissed once, or her dead father whom she kept hallucinating about, or a boy who saved her life when she was drowning, or her mother who is struggling to raise her and other two siblings and also someone she might be dating.

Debut author Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief, about mental illness at an early age or maybe age doesn’t define mental illness, and how living with it is a bridge to someone loved. She explores the places of loss in our lives and honours those who hold us tightly when the violent waves want to tug us out to sea.

This story is an incredible journey through a teenager's struggle with undiagnosed mental health issues and the hereditary effects of trauma. In the whole story, Biz was searching for normalcy in her life, finding love in someone. Biz goes through turmoil in her life that she cannot control after being rescued from the ocean by Jasper and an incident on the beach that destroys her friends circle at school. The story creates empathy among the readers and projects what is going on in Biz’s mind. It is one of those books when reading, it almost feels like looking at an abstract piece of writing.

Helena Fox has illustrated how mental illness can powerfully affect someone’s daily life when the person doesn’t even know about what he or she is going through. She has portrayed the protagonist as one who has endured a lot in her life and wonders what she has done to deserve all of it. She overcomes her pain by hallucinating or talking to her dead father who apparently appears at the corner of her bed. Whenever she feels broken, she looks at his photograph and thinks of the good times she spent with him. Helena Fox has acknowledged that she herself struggles with mental health, and portraying that in her debut novel was powerful and emotional.

I loved the style of 'How It Feels To Float'. It portrays a breath and a wish of poetry, and the slow unravelling of someone losing them to mental illness. While it is gut-wrenching it is also woven with hope. Truly a debut I won't forget!

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