Starred reviews:

⭐️ “Lyrical and profoundly affecting, providing a nuanced account of the hereditary effects of trauma. Haunting.” —Kirkus (starred review)

⭐️ “Biz is smart, funny, and self-deprecating . . . [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.” —Booklist (starred review)

⭐️ “Exquisite . . . Through lyrical first-person narration, Fox empathically conveys the hereditary nature of Biz’s illness, its disorienting manifestations, and the limitations and power of love to heal.” —Publishers Weekly  (starred review)

⭐️ “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.” —BookPage (starred review)

⭐️ “Fox writes with superb understanding and tenderness . . . The poignant depiction of depression is leavened by secondary characters who love Biz, ranging from Jasper’s photographer grandmother to Jasper himself and even to Biz’s doomed dad, who may have lost to his demons but who has a larky beauty that lights up the pages. . . . Ambiguity enhances the beautiful, unsteady shimmer of Biz’s story.” —BCCB  (starred review)

Kirkus Reviews —  Best YA Books of 2019

One of the ‘Best YA books About Living Boldly’

Chicago Public Library — Best Teen Fiction of 2019

Chicago Public Library recommends these titles as the very best fiction published in 2019 for teens in high school.

Popsugar: The 21 Best New Books to Read in May

“If you fell in love with Kathleen Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces, then chances are you’ll rip through Helena Fox’s profoundly moving new YA novel, How It Feels to Float. In it we meet Biz, who focuses on trying to “float” on the surface of her life, appearing normal and not bothering her loved ones with all the dark thoughts that plague her. But as anyone living with mental illness knows, you can only fake that everything is OK for so long. The novel explores intergenerational mental illness in a way that is nothing short of exquisite.”

Cosmopolitan: The 14 Best Books Coming Out in May

“Okay, so 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-20-something-friends-immediately YA.

This book will relate to anyone who has lived through the confusing mindf*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 fallout.”

BNTeen Blog: Helena Fox’s How It Feels to Float Is a Stunning Debut that Refuses to be Pinned Down

“Just like its protagonist, Elizabeth “Biz” Grey, How It Feels to Float refuses to be categorized, which makes for a beautiful and truthful coming-of-age story, set in Australia. This is a book with zero interest in pretending everything’s okay. No, it wants something better for its lead character, and the readers who follow Biz’s heart-wrenching journey: the idea that even when things are not okay, life is still worth fighting for; still worth staying around for, to find out what will happen next.

“Teens who don’t want to be labeled, who don’t conform to checklists of attributes or fall into tidy boxes, will relate hard to this book about a girl who wants, very badly at times, to float away, but who ultimately finds herself . . . Full of life, resplendent with sensory details, lush descriptions, clever and witty narration, and a beating heart that will make yours swell with feeling.”

Girl’s Life Magazine:

“Beautifully written, Biz’s story (of dark thoughts, grief and questioning her sexuality) is subtly revealed and immensely satisfying as she slowly unravels and puts herself together again.” —Girls’ Life Magazine


Sydney Review of Books: Review by Felicity Castagna

How It Feels To Float is a ‘big issues’ book that takes mental health as its primary subject but I’m much more interested in talking about why it’s the kind of YA I love, the shape-shifting, genre-blending, fragmentary, wildly experimental, literary kind.”

[The novel] is ultimately a lesson in how to sit with words and images, how to watch them literally float and fragment on the page – and how that can make you feel everything a book has to say so deeply it hurts.”

The Saturday Paper: Review by Kristen Krauth

“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.”

Australian Book Review: Review by Emily Gallagher 

Emily Gallagher reviews ‘Highway Bodies’ by Alison Evans, ‘Four Dead Queens’ by Astrid Scholte, ‘The Honeyman and the Hunter’ by Neil Grant, and ‘How It Feels to Float’ by Helena Fox

“Helena Fox’s début novel, How It Feels to Float heralds the arrival of a talented new voice on the Australian literary scene. Fox…finds words and phrases that give feeling to the frightening loneliness that often accompanies mental illness. … A gut-wrenchingly beautiful portrait of grief and mental illness, How It Feels to Float is a tribute to the unconditional love between mother and daughter, as well as the power of new rather than old friendships.”

The Guardian: More than a coming-out story: 10 books to read during Pride Month 

“Fox’s debut young adult fiction novel is a poignant look at grief, mental illness, love and friendship. Biz sees and converses with her late father, who died when she was seven, which contributes to her unravelling. The rich and poetic prose captures Biz’s suffering, and those living with mental illness or caring for loved ones will find Fox’s depiction powerful and realistic, if not excruciatingly accurate.”

Books & Publishing: 

Books & Publishing—Books & Publishing (5-stars)

The Children’s Bookshop:

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—The Children’s Bookshop (5-stars)

Readings Books:

100 great reads from Australian women & gender diverse authors in 2019

“15. How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox
A raw, poetic and deeply hopeful YA novel about living with mental illness and the bewildering places loss can take us.”