In Australian author Helena Fox’s debut, How It Feels to Float, 17-year-old Elizabeth’s father still appears to her 10 years after his death. Biz, as she’s called by friends and family, finds comfort in his ghostly presence and indulges in his stories about her childhood and his love for her mother. But Biz also feels at home among her self-described “Posse” of classmates and with her best friend, Grace.
During Biz’s junior year, her life starts to unravel. She discovers that she may be attracted to Grace, but her sexual orientation is still a conundrum. And when rumors about her sexuality start to spread around school, the Posse officially shuns her. Worst of all, her father disappears one night while she’s at the beach. As she finds herself alone, Biz may start to understand what it’s like for her father to float, “to watch and not be seen.”
In this lyrical story, we follow Biz as she sets out to find her lost father. As she connects with a new boy at school named Jasper (whose sexual orientation is also undefined) and an older female mentor, Biz’s narration occasionally turns from prose to poetry. In order to connect with her father, she will have to do the hard work of confronting her PTSD and unresolved grief.
This is a frank story of mental illness, loss and sexual identity, and Fox responsibly concludes her story with information and support services for readers facing similar issues. How It Feels to Float is a beautifully crafted story of finding hope and love when both appear to be gone forever.