Review and Playlist: How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Title: How it Feels to Float
Author: Helena Fox
Release Date: 5/7/2019
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 384
Buy it!

Don’t have time to read the entire review? That’s okay! Scroll down to the very end for a TL;DR.

Trigger Warnings: depression, anxiety, suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, underage drinking, homophobic slurs

This post does contain affiliate links. I will receive a small amount from any purchases made.

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface–normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach–first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears and, with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe–maybe maybe maybe–there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet.

Debut author Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief, about inter-generational mental illness, and how living with it is both a bridge to someone loved and lost and, also, a chasm. She explores the hard and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea.

How it Feels to Float is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read, and that isn’t something I say lightly. Biz’s story has ingrained itself in me so deeply and I will forever carry her with me. This is one of the most accurate portrayals of mental illness I’ve ever seen and it absolutely blew me away.

Am I – who am I and am I, even?”

how it feels to float by helena fox

Helena Fox’s writing is beautiful and poetic. Lacking chapters, the novel is broken into incredibly short parts that flow together and match Biz’s thoughts perfectly. It’s apparent that this is an own voices novel because it truly feels like Fox poured so much herself into these pages. She takes us on such a deep exploration of grief, family, mental illness, sexuality, and friendship.

Here I am. Here I am. Here I am.

how it feels to float by helena fox

The first person point of view really makes Biz’s story hit you hard. Fox takes us deep into the mind and thoughts of Biz and did a fantastic job of making me feel everything. The story is completely addictive; a slight air of mystery and unknown surrounds everything. The way in which we slowly learn Biz’s story through bits and pieces of memories and personal discoveries kept me hooked until the very end.

Generally, my reviews always end up longer, but I’m struggling with this one a lot. It honestly was so perfect and I’m having the hardest time formulating any thoughts. Really it isn’t too often that a story leaves me completely speechless, but How it Feels to Float has. This story is life changing and important, and I’ll be cherishing it for a long long time.

TL;DR: Absolute perfection. An incredible examination of mental illness, friendship, and sexuality that has left me speechless.

A physical ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, all quotes should be checked for accuracy against the final published novel.

While reading How it Feels to Float I had a few songs come to mind. I’ve put them together on a Spotify playlist as well as listed them down below in case you use a different music streaming service. I try to not double up on artists when creating playlists, but both of the below songs by The Neighbourhood fit so perfectly that I couldn’t help it.

  • Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift
  • Unfucktheworld by Angel Olsen
  • She by dodie
  • Night So Long by HAIM
  • Fix You by Coldplay
  • A Safe Place to Land by Sara Bareilles
  • How by The Neighbourhood
  • Afraid by The Neighbourhood

Week One

Week Two

13 thoughts on “Review and Playlist: How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox”

  1. I just recently heard about this book and it sounded incredibly powerful. Your review definitely confirmed that impression. I know what you mean about having a hard time writing reviews for books you love. I find it harder than for books I’m not particularly fond of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad I was able to confirm that for you! It’s definitely one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read and I honestly still haven’t stopped thinking about Biz. And I’m the exact same way. I could talk all day and night about a book I disliked, but ask me to write a review about one that impacted me the way How it Feels to Float did and I won’t be able to think of anything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol!!! I know right. I’m having such a hard time with the new Tiffany Jackson book. Her first two books came out before my blog and all I do is rave about her. And now I sit at the computer and just about cry because… I just.. I’m afraid to write itm


  2. Great review. I have had that feeling before – of trying to write a review, but the book was so perfect, it’s hard to find the words. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, those are the books that are life changing. This is going onto my TBR right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mari, thank you—again and always—for this beautiful review. I’m completely grateful and I so appreciate you taking the time to create your playlist! As you know, I have a playlist for the book too, which I keep adding to. My list is quite long, so I’ll just give you a snippet:

    1. Control – Liza Anne (note: some explicit language) (This song is at the top of my list)
    2. Anchor – Novo Armor
    3. Aha! – Imogen Heap
    4. Homegrown – Haux
    5. When The End Comes – Andrew Belle
    6. The Universe – Gregory Alan Isakov (This song sums it all up. And it is, in fact, my favourite song of all time)

    I have more, but then I’d keep you here forever, I think! It’s truly lovely to share songs with you, Mari. 🙂


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