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Breathing Underwater

In this slice-of-life, sensitively written novel, a teen girl grapples with a sudden epilepsy diagnosis, all while figuring out a new crush and an uncertain future.

Seventeen-year-old Tess Cooper lives by three rules: train hard, study hard, work hard. Swimming is her best chance at a college scholarship. It’s what her parents, her coaches, and even her best friend expect from her—and Tess can always deliver.

Until tragedy strikes.


Tess has a seizure, and her world suddenly becomes one of doctor visits, missed practices, and a summer job stuck behind a counter—not sitting high in the lifeguard chair like every year before.

Instead her spot goes to new guy Charlie. Though his messy hair and laid-back demeanor send Tess' heart racing, she definitely doesn't have time for romance, not when she's in danger of losing her spot on the swim team...and with it, her best shot at attending her dream college. But with the support of her chaotic but loving family, her best friend Mac, an epilepsy support group, and the cute new boy himself, Tess slowly starts to envision a different future for herself: one based on self-acceptance and inclusion. 

Cover illustration by Kim Myatt

Author's Note

BREATHING UNDERWATER is inspired by my late-in-life epilepsy diagnosis. Though 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime, this “invisible” disability is rarely represented in commercial fiction. In researching the novel, I had the incredible privilege of interviewing a group of young adults from the Eastern Pennsylvania Epilepsy Foundation. Their experiences, strength and hope helped inform the medical aspects of the novel and shape Tess’s inner journey.

Praise for Breathing Underwater

Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

"Romance adds tension to watertight plotting in this fast-paced, compelling novel from Nash (Lifeline), but it’s the sensitive explorations of life with an invisible disability that anchor this empathetic story." –– Publishers Weekly

"BREATHING UNDERWATER is a compelling story of a perfectionist learning to take life as it comes, all the challenges and the opportunities. A must read for anyone who's had a life-long plan they had to adapt." –– Molly Horan, author of Epically Earnest

"An honest, heartfelt portrait of a young athlete willing to put everything on the line to achieve her dreams. But even more, BREATHING UNDERWATER is an unflinching look at the courage it takes to forge new paths when everything’s stripped away—and, ultimately, discovering what matters most. I loved it." –– Jared Reck, author of A Short History of the Girl Next Door and Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love

"A sincere story of approaching a new reality with a competitive edge." –– Kirkus Reviews

"Nash’s book ... should find devoted fans ready to cheer Tess and her team to victory."

–– Booklist starred review

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