Breathing Under Water
Goodreads ratings
4.02 / 5

"Breathing Under Water" Characters Analysis

By Sophie Hardcastle

contemporary | 310 pages | Published in 2016

Nineteen minutes and eleven seconds separated us at birth. On the official documentation, he is older . . . Although it really has nothing to do with age. What it really means is that I am, and have always been, second.Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they'd surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.Breathing Under Water is a lyrical and emotionally powerful novel about life, death and learning to breathe in between.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

JakeLove Interest
AnnaBest Friend

Role Identification

In Sophie Hardcastle's novel "Breathing Under Water," the characters play crucial roles in shaping the narrative and exploring the themes of love, friendship, and self-discovery. The protagonist, Grace, undergoes a transformative journey as she navigates her relationships with Jake, Anna, and her sister Sophie.

Character Descriptions

  1. Grace: Grace is the central character and narrator of the story. She is a young woman who battles with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Grace is introspective, artistic, and deeply sensitive. She finds solace in the ocean and uses her passion for photography to express her emotions.
  2. Jake: Jake is the love interest of Grace. He is described as charismatic, adventurous, and mysterious. With his love for the ocean and a free-spirited nature, Jake becomes a significant source of support and inspiration for Grace.
  3. Anna: Anna is Grace's best friend since childhood. She is depicted as compassionate, loyal, and fiercely protective of Grace. Anna provides a grounding presence in Grace's life and helps her find stability and strength.
  4. Sophie: Sophie is Grace's younger sister. She is vibrant, vivacious, and full of life. Sophie's character serves as a contrast to Grace, showcasing the impact of mental health struggles on personal relationships.

Character Traits

  1. Grace: Grace is compassionate, creative, and resilient. She possesses a deep empathy for others, which allows her to connect with people on a profound level. However, her struggles with mental health often leave her feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable.
  2. Jake: Jake is adventurous, spontaneous, and supportive. He encourages Grace to embrace life fully and pushes her to confront her fears. Jake's character represents freedom and the possibility of healing.
  3. Anna: Anna is loyal, dependable, and nurturing. She constantly looks out for Grace, providing a pillar of strength during her darkest moments. Anna's unwavering friendship highlights the importance of a support system.
  4. Sophie: Sophie is vivacious, confident, and carefree. She represents the carefree nature of youth and serves as a reminder of the life Grace desires to reclaim. Sophie's character also emphasizes the impact of mental health struggles on familial relationships.

Character Background

  1. Grace: Grace comes from a supportive family, but her battle with mental health stems from a traumatic incident. She uses her photography as an outlet to express her emotions and find solace in the ocean. Grace's background showcases the complexity of mental health issues and their impact on personal growth.
  2. Jake: Jake has a mysterious background, with hints of a troubled past. His love for the ocean and adventurous spirit are rooted in his childhood experiences. Jake's background adds depth to his character and contributes to the overall themes of healing and self-discovery.
  3. Anna: Anna comes from a stable family background, and her presence in Grace's life is a constant source of support. She understands Grace's struggles intimately, having witnessed them from a young age. Anna's background showcases the importance of empathetic friendships.
  4. Sophie: Sophie's background is similar to Grace's, as they share the same family and upbringing. However, she hasn't experienced the same mental health challenges as her sister. Sophie's background highlights the impact of mental health struggles on sibling dynamics.

Character Arcs

  1. Grace: Throughout the novel, Grace embarks on a journey of self-discovery and healing. She learns to confront her fears, embrace vulnerability, and find strength in her relationships. Grace's character arc focuses on her growth from a place of darkness to one of resilience and self-acceptance.
  2. Jake: Jake's character arc revolves around his role as a catalyst for Grace's transformation. He helps her break free from her comfort zone, encourages her to confront her fears, and teaches her to embrace love and adventure. Jake's arc showcases the power of companionship and support in personal growth.
  3. Anna: While Anna does not undergo a significant character arc, her steadfast presence in Grace's life demonstrates the importance of unwavering support and friendship. Anna serves as a consistent source of stability and love, allowing Grace to navigate her journey of self-discovery.
  4. Sophie: Sophie's character arc parallels Grace's, albeit from a different perspective. Sophie learns to understand and empathize with her sister's struggles, ultimately strengthening their bond. Sophie's arc highlights the impact of mental health challenges on familial relationships.


  1. Grace and Jake: Grace and Jake's relationship is a catalyst for Grace's personal growth. Their connection is intense and passionate, characterized by mutual understanding, love, and support. Through Jake, Grace learns to embrace life fully and find the courage to confront her fears.
  2. Grace and Anna: Grace and Anna share a deep bond rooted in childhood friendship. Anna's unwavering support and understanding provide Grace with the strength to navigate her mental health struggles. Their relationship showcases the power of empathy and friendship in overcoming adversity.
  3. Grace and Sophie: Grace's relationship with Sophie is complex. Sophie's carefree nature contrasts with Grace's struggles, creating tension and jealousy at times. However, as the story progresses, Grace and Sophie's relationship evolves, allowing them to better understand and support one another.

In "Breathing Under Water," Sophie Hardcastle presents a cast of characters whose roles, traits, backgrounds, arcs, and relationships contribute to the exploration of themes such as mental health, love, friendship, and self-discovery. Through the lens of these characters, readers are invited to reflect on their own experiences and find solace in the shared human journey.