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Books: How to Breathe Underwater
Tuesday, 2004 February 10 - 11:57 pm
How to Breathe Underwater is a collection of short stories by a high-school friend of mine, Julie Orringer.

My expectations were low here, because we all remember reading crappy stories written by high school girls, right? But with this book, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Julie has grown up in the last ten years. There's no doubt about it: she has turned into a skillful and artistic writer. The stories in How to Breathe Underwater are vivid, emotional, and poignant.

It's interesting to read these stories, knowing some of the author's background. The protagonist in most of these stories is that of the other girl, the less confident one, the one who isn't the most popular or successful. I think that says something about how Julie felt growing up (but I don't mean to be presumptuous, Julie; you might just be good at writing that kind of character).

The stories tended to be melancholy, but with an underlying hopeful message, and I found that to be immensely satisfying. My favorite of the group was "The Isabel Fish", which seems to sum up the spirit of the entire collection in its final paragraph. I actually got a chill reading it.

Julie, congratulations on a wonderful book.
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Posted by Ken in: booksreviews

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