Breathing Underwater

Breathing Underwater - Alex Flinn Probably one of the best books on abusive relationships I've read/heard in the scheme of YA fiction. And what surprises me is that it's written in the eye of the abuser. Nick Andreas is seemingly the perfect high school student - gets good grades, plays on the football team, overall a stand up guy, at least on the surface. But Nick hits rock bottom when his girlfriend, Caitlin, files for a restraining order against Nick for hitting her. Nick doesn't believe he did anything wrong, but he faces a reality check with not only operating under the terms of the restraining order, but also having to attend anger management classes, and adhere to community service. Thus begins Nick's journey into recalling what really happened in his relationship with Caitlin, as he toggles between the past (written inside a journal he keeps) and the present day, where he has to deal with the aftermath of his actions. And he has to come to terms with the fact that he was not only an abuser, but also being abused by his controlling father.This novel was a heartbreaking, insightful read for me, and I couldn't put it down, to be honest. Even after it ends, the issues that it brings to light stick with you and make you think about all the persons involved in the unfolding events. It's very realistic. Nick is a dimensional character that while one could hate the things he does/thinks/acts upon, one could also feel sympathetic in his situation because you're watching him learn and change in recognizing the measure of his actions. I found myself really hoping that he'd get help, and Flinn does an excellent job of getting inside his head - both on the level of the brutality as well as coming to reason and assuming responsibility.I think that this is a book that teens can relate with, not just on the level of real issues within the life of a teen, but also providing insight into how real and frightening relationship abuse can be. But I think it also provides a lesson into how important it is to take responsibility for ones actions, and then start the process of being able to move forward. Nick's character ultimately does this, but it isn't without reasonable weight that I think will resonate with readers long after they finish the book.Wonderful audiobook narration by Jon Cryer.Overall score: 4.5/5