Breathing Underwater is a sparkly, moving middle grade novel from Sarah Allen, and a big-hearted exploration of sisterhood, dreams, and what it means to be there for someone you love.
Olivia is on the road trip of her dreams, with her trusty camera and her big sister Ruth by her side. Three years ago, before their family moved from California to Tennessee, Olivia and Ruth buried a time capsule on their favorite beach. Now, they’re taking an RV back across the country to uncover the memories they left behind. But Ruth’s depression has been getting worse, so Olivia has created a plan to help her remember how life used to be: a makeshift scavenger hunt across the country, like pirates hunting for treasure, taking pictures and making memories along the way.
All she wants is to take the picture that makes her sister smile. But what if things can never go back to how they used to be? What if they never find the treasure they’re seeking? Through all the questions, loving her sister, not changing her, is all Olivia can do—and maybe it’s enough.
When you’re driving across the country playing Treasure Hunt, one word doesn’t quite do it. You need
several words, maybe even a whole rhyme. A rhyme Ruth made up, and one I’ve remembered for three
These are the words I have sharpied on the back of those four pictures tucked carefully in my closet back
at home. I can see those four pictures as vividly as if they were in front of me again.
So really, my secret plan isn’t my secret plan at all. It’s Ruth’s. But the idea of doing the same Treasure
Hunt again as we go back across the country came into my mind like a gift. Because even though there
were hard things about moving, we had each other. She’s the one who sat by me every night while we
moved away from everything familiar and played me music while we looked at my pictures. And Ruth
doesn’t even have to know I’m doing the Treasure Hunt, not at first, because I’ve got my camera. I can
subtly take photos of Ruth at every stop, finding ways to replicate as perfectly as possible the images
from the first time around. Look at the pictures I took of you, I’ll tell her at the end. I’ll surprise her with
the pictures, and when she sees them, she’ll know. And for the last and final picture—our Something
Gold—we can have Ellie or Eddie take a picture of us holding not moving boxes, but our Treasure Box.
We had each other, and I want her to know that we still do.
Look at all the magic and gold treasures we’ve found, I’ll say.
The author will be raffling off a free Print Copy of Breathing Underwater during the book tour! (US/CAN Only)
About the Author
Sarah Allen has been published in The Evansville Review, Allegory, and on WritersDigest. She has an MFA from Brigham Young University. Like Libby in her novel What Stars are Made Of, Allen was born with Turner Syndrome.
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