Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Breathing Underwater (audio)

Nick's story begins with a restraining order.  He seems he slapped his girlfriend "one time" and now he's been sent to anger management classes and can't see her anymore.  But it's no big deal, right?  It was just the one time, right?  And it's not like he doesn't get hit around plenty by his dad at home.  Told in both narrative and diary form, Nick's story unfolds as we learn how he got to where he is and if he can ever understand his own actions.

Normally the book is about the victim, not the abuser, but in a way Nick is both.  He is abused by his dad his own life and then he, in turn, abuses his girlfriend.  And it starts as just a little verbal name calling and escalates and Nick never sees what he is doing to this poor girl who doesn't have the self-esteem or willpower to walk away until he pushes it too far.  The diary sections carry the reader through the events that lead to the restraining order, how he meet and fell in love with Caitlin and what happened afterward.  The narrative part is what happens to Alex in his anger management classes and how the situation is dealt with at school, at home, in his own head.  And Alex begins to see, through the actions others and the diary what he must change in himself.

I was surprised by how compelling I found this book.  Usually the reader is lead through the girl's experiences and whether she gets up the courage to leave or not.  But it's rare to find a book about the abuser.  What he was thinking, how he justified it, how he can say "I love you" and then hurl abuse at his loved one.  I was captivated and moved by Nick's story.  While it is hard to give sympathy to him, he doesn't ask for it.  He only has to come to terms with what he has done and so does the reader.


  1. Wow-- this book seems incredibly interesting. I never would have thought to read a book on the other side (the abuser!) Looks like something I would want to read, just out of pure curiosity!

    Well-Read Reviews

  2. Allison - I would recommend it. It is a powerful little book.


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