Breathing underwater, Book by Alex Flinn: Summary Notes

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Breathing Underwater Notes


Alex Flinn grew up in Syosset, New York, a small town on Long Island, New York and lived in Miami, Florida. When she was five years old, her mother suggested that she should be an author. "I guess I must have nodded or something because, from that point on, every poem I ever wrote in school was submitted to Highlights or Cricket magazine. I was collecting rejection slips at age seven!"

High school was spent in Miami 's various "gifted and talented" performing arts programs. She studied opera in college and was a really loud, high pitched soprano. She later went on to study law at law school. It was the latter experience which probably helped her with her first novel. Breathing Underwater deals with the serious and all-too-common problem of dating violence. Alex based the book on her experiences interning with the State Attorney's Office and volunteering with battered women. Alex started writing an early draft of Breathing Underwater in college. But when she had her first daughter, she started writing it in earnest. "I was self-taught. I went to the library and took out books on writing. Then, I read a lot of young-adult novels by writers I admired, particularly Richard Peck. Reading his books is like listening to Mozart -- you learn the right way to write a novel. Then, you fill in your own style." Alex currently lives in Palmetto Bay, a Miami suburb, with her husband, Gene, and her daughters, Katie and Meredith.


Nick Andreas, a sixteen year old high school student, lives with his father in the small town of Key Biscayne, somewhere off the Atlantic coast near Miami, Florida. Nick is described as being an Abercrombie and Fitch kid who is well privileged and has everything handed to them. Unfortunately, Nick has been handed a situation that he does not want. Nick has ended up in court because of his violent acts against his girlfriend, Caitlin McCourt. The Judge, Deborah Lehman, orders a restraining order against him if he so much as looks at Caitlin. Judge Lehman also orders six months in counseling classes on family violence and dealing with anger. Because Nick has such a hard time understanding how he got himself into this mess, Judge Lehman also orders Nick to keep a journal that consists of five hundred words per week.

At first, Nick is pissed off at the fact that the judge makes him do all these things, but in the end, they will make him become a better person. Nick shows a careless attitude when he attends his family violence class, lead by a guy named Mario. Along with the seven other people in the class, he denies the fact of what he did to Caitlin by saying he just gave her a simple slap on the face when in real life, he had punched and kicked her because he did not want her to sing in front of people and make herself look like an idiot. In turn, Nick made himself look like an idiot. Nick ends up writing in his journals that he has to write. He uses his journals and talks about the times he used to have with Caitlin. The journals he writes gets him away from reality and into his fantasies where he would much rather be. Over time, he reflects on what he wrote and where he went wrong with his relationship. Nick learns some valuable lessons from the family violence class by not thinking always about the negative things that make him angry. Instead, Mario tells him to think that if she was running late picking him up, to say that he got worried that she got in an accident. Nick thinks that he will be able to get Caitlin back when he can't because of what he did to her. Nick learns that he has to move on and make life better for him in the future.


Nick Andreas

The narrator and main character of the story has been beaten by his own father, which has caused him to do the same on his girlfriend. He is described as being very attractive and someone who gets anything he wants. After the event with...
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