Inkwell Management
Published by
Dial Books (2019-05-07)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language
Books for very young children, children’s picture books & activity books


by Fox, Helena

From a great new voice in YA fiction comes this stunning, profound and deeply hopeful portrayal of living with mental illness and grief.

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn't be here but is. So Biz doesn't tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn't tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was seven. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface - normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach - first in the ocean, and then in the sand - the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears and, with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe - maybe maybe maybe - there's a third way Biz just can't see yet.

A mesmerizing, radiant debut, at once gutting, humorous, and impossible to put down. Helena Fox tells a story about love and grief and family and friendship, about inter-generational mental illness, and how living with it is both a bridge to someone loved and lost and also a chasm. She explores the hard, bewildering, and beautiful places loss can take us, and honors those who hold us tightly when the current wants to tug us out to sea.

Helena Fox lives in Wollongong, Australia, where she runs creative writing workshops for young people. She's a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is her debut novel.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Annelie Geissler

Available View on Rightsdesk



How It Feels To Float is a 'big issues' book... it's the kind of YA I love, the shape-shifting, genre-blending, fragmentary, wildly experimental, literary kind.

Review: Sydney Review of Books

A profoundly moving story about grief, loss, and love that will take your breath away. Helena Fox is a writer to be reckoned with.

Quote: Kathleen Glasgow, author of Girl in Pieces

Impossibly beautiful, life-affirming, profound. This is not a book; it is a work of art.

Quote: Kerry Kletter, author of The First Time She Drowned

A perfect, surreal exploration of mental illness and grief. Fox's writing is poetry, bringing the reader to the brink of Biz's madness and back again as she finds new ways to make meaning, and new people to make it with. ... How It Feels to Float is a visceral reading experience that captures the way in which many teens struggle with mental illness. It is a lesson in acceptance and understanding, and readers will be deeply moved.

Review: Books+Publishing

Fox writes with superb understanding and tenderness of a girl whose trauma long ago impaired her emotional processing and her interface with the world. The book never fully commits itself on the question of magical realism vs. psychological device. and that ambiguity enhances the beautiful, unsteady shimmer of Biz's story.

Review: BCCB, starred review

How It Feels to Float is technically a YA novel, but I'm not talking Twilight YA. I'm talking give-this-to-all-your-twenty-something-friends-immediately YA. This book will relate to anyone that's lived through the confusing mind-f*ck that is being a high school girl. More than that, it tackles mental health, depression, sexual identity, and anxiety with beauty and empathy as protagonist Biz comes to terms with the death of her father amid a devastating social fall-out.


Lyrical and profoundly affecting, providing a nuanced account of the hereditary effects of trauma. Haunting.

Review: Kirkus Reviews, starred review

A beautifully crafted story of finding hope and love when both appear to be gone forever.

Review: BookPage, starred review

HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is one of their 14 Best Books Coming Out in May 2019


[How It Feels to Float is] a masterful portrayal of mental illness that illuminates the complex interplay between emotional trauma and the mind's subsequent recoil. And the writing is just beautiful.

Review: Booklist, starred review

HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is listed as one of the top May new releases

Quote: Bustle

It is a testament to Helena Fox's immense skill as a writer that all the disparate elements come together seamlessly in an intense, intimate portrait of a teenage girl. Like Biz in the darkroom, the author dodges and burns, keeping her characters moving, exposing them to the light.

Review: The Saturday Paper

Fox's exquisite debut offers an intimate portrayal of a teenager navigating familial and social complexities while living with an undiagnosed mental illness... Fox empathically conveys the hereditary nature of Biz's illness, its disorienting manifestations, and the limitations and power of love to heal.

Review: Publishers Weekly, starred review

Every now and then you pick up a novel and you know you've found something wonderful. A glorious voice, a character you adore. Helena Fox's novel delivers. It's exquisite. Read it.

Quote: Cath Crowley, author of Words in Deep Blue

A YA The Bell Jar with a ghostly twist, [and an] honest, nuanced portrayal of grief and life with mental illness... A mesmerizing and timely debut.

Review: Bustle

This book will take you for a ride, will take you by surprise, will take off with you clinging to its ankles, will explode you into atoms. But then it will put you back together and return the new shape of you to earth. Alive with sensation, rich in thought, and packing several rollercoasters' worth of feeling, How it Feels to Float intensively explores what it's like to be here now, and how it might feel to grow.

Quote: Margo Lanagan, author of Tender Morsels

If you've read Anna Borges's story for The Outline "I Am Not Always Very Attached To Being Alive," you are perhaps already acquainted with the idea of "treading to stay afloat" when living with mental illness. In How It Feels To Float, author Helena Fox tells the story of a young woman floating through life, struggling to hide her dark thoughts and a past marked by intergenerational mental illness.

Review: Bustle

HOW IT FEELS TO FLOAT is listed as one of their 20 Best New Books to Read in May

Quote: popsugar

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