Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A young woman navigates through the depths of mental illness and trauma, finding solace and strength beneath the surface of her own emotions.


In "Breathing Under Water" by Sophie Hardcastle, readers are taken on an emotional journey through the eyes of Grace, a young woman grappling with the aftermath of a traumatic event. This gripping novel explores themes of love, loss, mental health, and the power of resilience. Hardcastle's lyrical prose and raw storytelling make for a compelling and thought-provoking read.

Brief Synopsis

"Breathing Under Water" is set in the picturesque coastal town of Eden, Australia. Grace, the protagonist, finds solace in the vastness of the ocean and the beauty of nature. However, her idyllic world is shattered when a devastating event leaves her struggling to cope with her emotions.

Grace's journey is intertwined with the stories of two other young women: Eva and Meg. Through their interconnected narratives, the novel delves into the complexities of friendship, family dynamics, and the search for self-identity.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
GraceThe main protagonist, a young woman dealing with the aftermath of trauma
EvaGrace's best friend and a source of support throughout her journey
MegGrace's older sister, who has her own struggles and is trying to protect Grace

Summary of Different Story Points

Chapters 1-5: A World Shattered

In the opening chapters, readers are introduced to Grace, Eva, and Meg. Grace's life is forever changed when a tragic incident occurs, leaving her emotionally fractured. Her relationships with Eva and Meg are put to the test as they try to navigate the aftermath together.

Chapters 6-10: The Depths of Despair

As Grace grapples with her trauma, she finds herself sinking deeper into despair. Flashbacks and haunting memories consume her, making it difficult for her to find any semblance of normalcy. Eva and Meg continue to provide support, but Grace's journey becomes increasingly solitary.

Chapters 11-15: A Glimmer of Hope

In these chapters, Grace starts to find glimmers of hope amidst the darkness. Through therapy and self-reflection, she begins to confront her past and take steps towards healing. The ocean, which has always been a source of solace for her, becomes a symbol of strength and resilience.

Chapters 16-20: Unveiling the Truth

As Grace's healing journey progresses, she starts to uncover the truth behind the traumatic event that shattered her world. This revelation brings a mix of emotions, from anger and betrayal to a renewed sense of empowerment. The relationships with Eva and Meg also undergo significant transformations.

Chapters 21-25: Embracing Resilience

In the final chapters, Grace emerges from the depths of her despair, embracing her resilience and the power of her own voice. She learns to breathe underwater, metaphorically speaking, as she navigates the complexities of her past and embraces her future with strength and determination.

Main Events

  1. The traumatic event that shatters Grace's world.
  2. Grace's struggle with her emotions and mental health.
  3. Grace's journey towards healing and self-discovery.
  4. Unveiling the truth behind the traumatic event.
  5. The transformation of Grace's relationships with Eva and Meg.
  6. Grace's emergence as a resilient and empowered young woman.

Themes and Insights

  • The power of resilience: "Breathing Under Water" explores the theme of resilience and the capacity of individuals to overcome adversity.
  • The complexity of trauma: The novel delves into the intricate nature of trauma, highlighting its impact on mental health and personal relationships.
  • The healing power of nature: The ocean and nature serve as sources of solace and renewal for Grace, emphasizing the healing power of the natural world.
  • The importance of support systems: The novel explores the significance of friendship and familial bonds in navigating through difficult times.
  • The search for self-identity: Grace's journey towards healing involves a deep exploration of her own identity and a search for meaning beyond her trauma.

Reader's Takeaway

"Breathing Under Water" is a beautifully written and emotionally charged novel that tackles heavy themes with grace and sensitivity. Sophie Hardcastle's captivating storytelling allows readers to empathize with the characters and reflect on their own experiences with trauma, resilience, and the pursuit of self-discovery. This novel serves as a powerful reminder of the human capacity for healing and the importance of connection in times of darkness.


"Breathing Under Water" is a poignant and deeply moving novel that explores the complexities of trauma, resilience, and self-discovery. Sophie Hardcastle's lyrical prose and compelling characters make this book a must-read for anyone seeking a thought-provoking exploration of the human spirit.

Breathing Under Water FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Breathing Under Water'?

    The genre of 'Breathing Under Water' is young adult fiction.

  2. Who is the author of 'Breathing Under Water'?

    The author of 'Breathing Under Water' is Sophie Hardcastle.

  3. What is the main theme of 'Breathing Under Water'?

    The main theme of 'Breathing Under Water' is mental health and recovery.

  4. What is the story about?

    The story follows Grace, a young girl who navigates her struggle with mental illness, trauma, and the healing power of the ocean.

  5. Is 'Breathing Under Water' a standalone novel or part of a series?

    'Breathing Under Water' is a standalone novel.

  6. What age group is the book suitable for?

    The book is suitable for young adult readers aged 14 and above.

  7. Are there any trigger warnings for this book?

    Yes, the book contains themes of mental illness, self-harm, and trauma, which may be triggering for some readers.

  8. Is 'Breathing Under Water' based on a true story?

    No, 'Breathing Under Water' is a work of fiction.

  9. What are some other books by Sophie Hardcastle?

    Some other books by Sophie Hardcastle include 'Running Like China' and 'Below Deck'.