How It Feels to Float Book Summary, Analysis and Characters, Helena Fox


What is the summary of the book How It Feels to Float written by Helena Fox? Information about the summary, characters, analysis of How It Feels to Float.

How It Feels to Float

How It Feels to Float

  • Title: “How It Feels to Float”
  • Author: Helena Fox
  • Genre: Young Adult (YA) Fiction, Mental Health, Contemporary
  1. Mental Health: “How It Feels to Float” delves deep into the protagonist’s struggle with mental health, specifically her experience with depression, anxiety, and dissociation. The book provides a raw and authentic portrayal of the challenges faced by individuals who grapple with mental health issues, including the stigma, the impact on daily life, and the journey towards self-acceptance and healing.
  2. Self-Identity: The book explores the protagonist’s search for self-identity as she grapples with feelings of disconnect from herself and the world around her. It delves into her exploration of her sexuality, her relationships with family and friends, and her quest for understanding and acceptance of who she is.
  3. Family and Friendship: “How It Feels to Float” also delves into the complexities of family relationships and the importance of supportive friendships. The protagonist navigates the challenges of her relationship with her mother, her absent father, and her close friends, as she tries to reconcile her own emotions and experiences.
  4. Acceptance and Healing: Throughout the novel, the protagonist embarks on a journey of self-acceptance and healing. She confronts her past, unravels her emotions, and learns to embrace her flaws and vulnerabilities. The book portrays the power of self-acceptance, self-love, and the importance of seeking help and support when navigating mental health challenges.

“How It Feels to Float” follows the story of Biz, a seventeen-year-old girl who struggles with her mental health. Biz is haunted by the death of her father when she was a child, and her life seems to unravel as she battles depression, anxiety, and dissociation. She feels disconnected from herself and the world around her, and struggles to understand who she truly is. As Biz navigates her senior year of high school, she grapples with her relationships with her mother, her absent father, and her friends. Along the way, Biz begins to confront her past, unravel her emotions, and learn to accept herself as she is. With the support of a therapist, her friends, and her own inner resilience, Biz embarks on a journey of self-acceptance and healing, ultimately discovering how it feels to truly float.

Book Summary

Biz is a seventeen-year-old girl who is struggling with her mental health. She has been haunted by the death of her father when she was a child, and she finds herself feeling disconnected from herself and the world around her. She struggles with depression, anxiety, and dissociation, which often leave her feeling like she’s floating through life without a solid sense of self.

As Biz navigates her senior year of high school, she grapples with various challenges. She struggles with her relationship with her mother, who is overprotective and sometimes suffocating, while also dealing with the absence of her father, who passed away when she was young. Biz’s father was an artist, and she feels a deep connection to him through his artwork and the memories she has of him. She often seeks solace in his paintings and tries to understand him better through his art.


Biz also struggles with her friendships. She has a close group of friends, including Grace, who is her best friend and confidante, and Jasper, a kind-hearted boy who has feelings for her. However, Biz finds it difficult to truly connect with others and often feels like she’s on the outside looking in. She battles with feelings of detachment from those around her, including her friends, and wonders if she’s capable of truly connecting with anyone.

Throughout the novel, Biz grapples with her mental health. She experiences bouts of depression, anxiety attacks, and episodes of dissociation, where she feels like she’s not fully present in her body or the world around her. She struggles to understand why she feels this way and often tries to hide her struggles from others, including her mother and friends. However, she starts to realize that hiding her true feelings only serves to isolate her further and that opening up and seeking help may be the key to healing.

With the support of a therapist, Dr. Whatley, Biz begins to confront her past and unravel her emotions. She explores her memories of her father and the circumstances surrounding his death, and she starts to come to terms with her grief and loss. She also begins to explore her own identity, including her sexuality. Biz identifies as bisexual, and she grapples with her feelings of attraction towards both boys and girls. She struggles with societal expectations and fears judgment from others, including her mother, but she slowly learns to accept herself as she is.

Biz also finds solace in her creative pursuits. She has a passion for photography and spends time capturing moments and expressing herself through her art. She finds that photography allows her to connect with the world in a unique way and gives her a sense of purpose and direction.

As Biz continues to navigate her senior year, she learns the importance of self-acceptance and self-compassion. She realizes that it’s okay to not have all the answers and that it’s okay to be imperfect. She learns to embrace her flaws, vulnerabilities, and emotions, and she starts to cultivate a sense of self-love and acceptance. She also learns to reach out to others for support, including her friends and her mother, and she begins to mend her strained relationships.

Throughout the novel, Biz’s journey is not linear, and she experiences setbacks and challenges along the way. However, she learns to develop coping strategies, lean on her support system, and persevere through difficult times. She discovers the power of vulnerability, self-acceptance, and seeking help when needed.

In the end, Biz comes to a deeper understanding of herself and her place in the world. She learns that it’s okay to float, to feel disconnected at times, and that it doesn’t mean she’s lost. She finds strength in her vulnerabilities and discovers that she is not alone in her struggles. She realizes that many people around her also face challenges and that it’s okay to lean on others for support.


As Biz’s journey progresses, she also starts to rebuild her relationship with her mother. She learns to communicate her needs and feelings more openly, and her mother learns to give her the space she needs while still being supportive. They begin to understand each other better and develop a more healthy and authentic relationship.

Biz also finds comfort and support in her friendships, especially with Grace and Jasper. She learns to trust them and open up to them about her struggles, and they are there for her with empathy and understanding. She also meets new people along the way who become important figures in her life, including a supportive teacher and a fellow student who shares similar experiences.

Through her therapy sessions with Dr. Whatley, Biz gains tools and strategies to manage her mental health. She learns techniques for grounding herself during dissociative episodes and develops coping mechanisms for dealing with her depression and anxiety. She also learns the importance of self-care and self-compassion, and she gradually starts to prioritize her own well-being.

As Biz approaches the end of her senior year, she faces the uncertainty of the future with a newfound sense of resilience and self-acceptance. She realizes that life may continue to present challenges, but she has the inner strength and support system to face them head-on. She also recognizes that her mental health journey is ongoing and that it’s okay to seek help when needed.

In the closing chapters of the book, Biz showcases her photography in a school exhibition, which becomes a metaphor for her own growth and self-expression. She reflects on her journey and the progress she has made, and she looks forward to the future with hope and determination. The novel ends on a note of self-acceptance, resilience, and the importance of seeking help and connecting with others.

“How It Feels to Float” is a poignant and heartfelt exploration of mental health, grief, self-acceptance, and the power of human connection. Through Biz’s journey, readers are reminded of the importance of self-care, self-compassion, and seeking support when facing challenges. The novel also highlights the significance of understanding and accepting one’s own identity, including sexuality, and navigating relationships with empathy and vulnerability. Overall, “How It Feels to Float” is a beautifully written and deeply moving book that offers an authentic portrayal of a teenager’s journey towards self-acceptance and healing.


“How It Feels to Float” features a diverse cast of characters who play pivotal roles in Biz’s journey towards self-acceptance and healing. Some of the main characters in the book include:

  1. Biz Davies: The protagonist of the story, Biz is a 16-year-old girl who is struggling with mental health challenges, including depression and dissociation. She is a talented photographer and uses her art as an outlet for her emotions. Biz is introspective, sensitive, and compassionate, but also grapples with feelings of confusion and isolation.
  2. Grace: Biz’s best friend since childhood, Grace is a supportive and caring presence in Biz’s life. She stands by Biz through thick and thin, even when Biz pushes her away. Grace is openly queer and provides Biz with a safe space to discuss her own sexuality and explore her identity.
  3. Jasper: A fellow student at Biz’s school, Jasper is a kind and understanding friend who also struggles with mental health issues. He is empathetic and shares a deep connection with Biz, as they both understand each other’s struggles in a unique way. Jasper provides Biz with emotional support and a sense of camaraderie.
  4. Biz’s Mother: Biz’s mother is a complex character who has her own struggles and challenges. She loves Biz deeply but sometimes struggles to understand her daughter’s mental health issues. However, she is willing to learn and grow in her relationship with Biz, and their bond gradually evolves throughout the story.
  5. Dr. Whatley: Biz’s therapist, Dr. Whatley is a supportive and compassionate figure who helps Biz navigate her mental health challenges. She provides Biz with tools and strategies to manage her emotions and encourages her to explore her thoughts and feelings in a safe space.
  6. Other supporting characters: The novel also includes other important characters, such as Biz’s father, her younger brother, her photography teacher, and other students at her school. These characters provide various perspectives and contribute to Biz’s journey in different ways.

Each character in “How It Feels to Float” brings their own unique experiences, struggles, and perspectives, adding depth and richness to the story. Through their interactions and relationships with Biz, they help shape her understanding of herself and the world around her, and contribute to her growth and healing.

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