How It Feels To Float

384p. Dial. May 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525554295.
Gr 9 Up—Biz's father died when she was young, and her grief hasn't let up, but he visits her to tell stories about the past, so he isn't really gone. Other things talk to her, too, such as the ocean, which she wades into while drunk and nearly drowns before the new kid, Jasper, pulls her out. After a few bad turns, she loses the group of friends she exists on the fringes of, including her best friend, and drops out of school. But then she loses her dad—again—and it's too much. She sets out on the road to find him, Jasper by her side, taking photographs of places that were important to her dad, who speaks to her through them. Through much of the story, it feels as though her father might be appearing and nonsentient objects may be talking through magical realism rather than hallucination, but as she pulls further from reality and ends up in the hospital, her dissociation becomes obvious. The lack of clarity between what's real and what isn't might be confusing, but it captures the experience of not being able to tell the difference. The grief, depression, and intrusive thoughts Biz endures are raw, but there is a healthy distance between her experience of events and readers'. This portrayal of mental illness is honest and authentic, including Biz's recovery.
VERDICT For collections that need to expand their mental health offerings.

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