How it Feels to Float
About the book
Biz knows how to float. She has her people, posse, her mum 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.
About the author
Helena Fox mentors and runs writing workshops for young people, and is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in the U.S. Helena has travelled and lived all around the world, but of all her adventures, working with young people and helping them find and express their voice has brought her the greatest joy. 'How It Feels to Float' is her debut novel.
'How it Feels to Float' is a debut novel by Helena Fox. It is a beautifully written, poetic and heart-breaking portrayal of grief, trauma, guilt and mental illness. Biz, the main character, is endearing, nuanced and convincing. Her isolation and disassociation from reality is sensitively handled. She has constructed a world in which she believes she doesn't need to tell anyone anything as she tries to convey an image of self-sufficiency. The title refers to Biz's feeling she can float above everything and survive; as she tells teachers and counsellors and anyone else who cares to ask she's 'fine'. The first-person narrative allows the reader to develop a special rapport with Biz and understanding of her relationships with others. There is a gradual revealing of the background to Biz's state of mind and the author uses each word and wonderfully-crafted sentence to portray an unravelling of the tapestry of Biz's grief and depression, fusing the past and present until she is holding on by a thread. The disclosure of her father's death, when she was a little girl, and her feeling of guilt about this is distressing and revealing.
As readers, we find out just how long Biz has been using this ability to 'float' to cover up her real feelings. For her, a relatively minor event escalates overnight into something major. The episode of her breakdown is shocking and believable and the author's skill makes the reader feel Biz's pain. The road trip that Biz and her friend Jasper take is a clever authorial device for bringing about this climactic deterioration in Biz's mental health. Although confronting and hard to read at times, it is ultimately a book about hope, resilience and survival.