Breathing Underwater

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Julia Green
May 2009
My thoughts drift. I think about the world beneath us, down,down, down. Water washing stone, grinding it slowly into sand. There are stretches of sea-bed between the islands which used to be valleys with village settlements, thousands of years ago. The sea level has slowly risen, covering it all up. Deep down, a whole flooded life is metamorphosing into something else.

In protagonist, Freya, Julia Green combines the contradiction of binding a palpable zeal for life together with the grief of losing her brother, Joe. The result is that an affinity between the reader and Freya is instantly wrought and it is upon this special relationship that its subtlety and, at times, jagged, raw, emotional truths depend.

Visiting her grandparents on the island where they live and where Joe's tragic accident at sea occurred forces a confrontation with a past that Freya remains deeply affected by. The death of Joe is downplayed meaning that it is Freya's grappling with what this means and how the events came about that take centre stage within the novel.

In spare prose, a sense of community is built up around the island and gradually, through immersion into the ebb and flow of her emotions, Freya is able to reach a level of understanding as to the continuing breadth of feeling she has for her brother, the expectation she retains that he will still be there for her and the yearning that is bestowed upon her because of this.

Julia Green makes a welcome return with this tender, affecting tale.

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