realistically heartbreaking – invisibly breathing review

Invisibly breathing
Eileen Merriman


enjoyment – 4
Characters – 4
Plot – 3
Pacing – 4
Writing quality – 5
Final rating: 4
-Bailey & Felix
-How the abuse is dealt with realistically and treated.
-The positive ending
-The other characters were a bit 2D
-The plot was nothing new or fresh

Invisibly breathing is a New Zealand based male/male contemporary. It is a dual perspective book that deals with bullying and familial abuse.

Bailey one of the main character’s has a large family and in an abusive father. He has just moved from Auckland to Lower Hutt. We see him deal with his father’s abuse and moving to a new city. He also has a speech impediment. It is a stress induced stutter, much like my own. In regards to the stutter I feel like the representation was pretty spot on for me. He stuttered over specific letters and in specific situations like I do.

Our other main character is Felix. Felix I believe has autism or OCD. I can’t speak for the representation as I do not have this but it was not the only thing about him and he was very much more than his disorder.

In this novel we saw Bailey and Felix beginner friendship while practicing judo. they began to become friends and bonded over the time down at a river like a lot of kiwi kids. The friendship progressed into relationship in a really natural way, it didn’t feel pushed or wrong as they both came to terms with how they felt and how those feelings would affect them.

I was definitely mad at Bailey’s mother and father because of the abuse and acceptance of it. But it was realistic and a reminder of what we often don’t see behind closed doors.

I think the plot was good, especially the ending as it showed what happened after a major event. We saw the boys were able to maintain their relationship and while there were many hardships through the start on both their ends, by the last page things were looking much brighter for them.

I would warn about the scenes of abuse, if you’re not comfortable with such things, I would skip this book as there are multiple scenes like this and the abuse is a large part of one of the characters past.

Otherwise I’d recommend this to teens and fans of Nz based LGBTQIA+ contemporaries.



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