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How to Breathe Underwater


Love can leave you breathless.

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Swoon Index

  • Heat

    7 (5 ratings)

  • Tears

    7 (6 ratings)

  • Laughs

    7 (5 ratings)

  • Thrills

    7 (5 ratings)

Full Description

Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she's been a part of her whole life.

Now in a new home, new school, and faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn't so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There's only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.

As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?


When I opened the front door, my heart stopped. There was someone standing in the hallway, leaning against the door directly across from ours, looking right at me. I gasped, and the boy straightened up, putting both hands out quickly, like I was a rabid dog he needed to persuade not to bite him.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Um, your mom said I could just wait out here for you.”

“My mom?” It took me a second to place the boy in front of me as the same boy who I’d seen in the parking garage the day before, the one leaning over the woman with the bad lungs. Dark messy hair that looked subject to having his fingers run through it periodically, dark eyes, the color of which I couldn’t decipher from all the way over here, the sleeves of his shirt bunched up around his elbows.

I heard my mother scrape away from the dining room table. She rushed to my side.

“Oh sweetie,” she said, a big smile on her face. “I completely forgot. This is Michael.” She gestured to the guy, who was now standing awkwardly in the hallway, with an uncomfortable tilt to his mouth. “He lives across the hall with his mother, and he rides the bus to school, so I thought the two of you could ride together.”


"Skinner adeptly creates relatable and honest characters. ... This contemporary novel deals with tough topics in a lighthearted and humorous way. Give this to fans of complex stories about relationships who might enjoy a bit of sports mixed in." —School Library Journal

"A captivating story about love, reinventing yourself, and what it means to start over, Vicky Skinner has created a compelling debut that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you breathless. ... Overall, this is a really sweet and refreshing read, and I highly recommend it." —Buried in a Bookshelf

"This one made my heart ache and fill with warmth. A very enjoyable and emotional journey." —We Live and Breathe Books

“So good. So, so good. I enjoyed this one all the way through. Well-developed characters, interesting storyline, clean writing, I'm hooked.” —Christy Hintz, Swoon Reader

“I had such a nice time reading this! I really liked Michael and just wanted to give him a big hug! Boy did you tug at my heartstrings! A very lovely story and an enjoyable read.” —Katie Kaleski, Swoon Reader