Our Featured Book for Teens this Month

Coming Up for Air by Lou Abercrombie

Our Featured Book for Teens this month is the engrossing Coming Up for Air by Lou Abercrombie.

This quirky coming of age story follows teenager Coco as she embarks on a life-changing move from Soho in London to the seaside town where her mum grew up.

Coco is determined to overcome her nerves and look on the bright side of the move - embracing her love of swimming and her talent for free-diving. But she is not expecting the resentment which her and her mum are met with. It's clear there are a lot of buried secrets and that it's down to Coco to repair the rift...

Find out more about the book from author Lou Abercrombie herself, as she tells us more about her inspiration for Coming Up for Air and Coco's love of free-diving in her guest blog. Check it out below!

You can also read an extract of the book here.

Toppsta
2022-04-28
Our Featured Book for Teens this Month
Author, Lou Abercrombie

guest blog from lou abercrombie

My first book, Fig Swims the World, follows Fig on an adventure around the world in twenty swims. It’s a tribute to my passion for swimming. When it came to writing my second novel, Coming Up For Air, I naturally wanted to continue with the watery theme.

I’ve been a swimmer ever since my mum put armbands on me aged fifteen months. It was the start of a love affair with water. From sea dips with my grandpa and swimming in my pyjamas for an STA survival award, to following in Lord Bryon’s swimstrokes across the Hellespont and completing a ten kilometre marathon swim down the river Dart – if it involves water, I’m up for it! So, when I read an article about becoming a mermaid, I had to do it. I mean, I was obviously going to be good at it! Wasn’t I...?

 Picture the scene. It’s June 2018 when I arrive in Newquay. Three days of learning how to free dive, culminating in an underwater photoshoot to capture the moment when I dive effortlessly into the blue as a mermaid. 

Day One

We meet our instructors near Fistral Beach. The sun is out, the sea lapping against the shore and the water sparkling irresistibly. I can’t wait to get in. Jump cut to sitting in a shipping container in a car park. Not quite the location I’d imagined! 

The AIDA 1&2 star freediving course is aimed at beginner freedivers and wannabe mermaids alike. The fact is, if you want to spend any time underwater, there’s learning to be done in the classroom first. Basic freediving theory, correct breathing and relaxation techniques, how to be safe in the water… There’s even a written test! 

The afternoon finds us in the pool and wearing our freediving gear. Thick black neoprene leggings, wetsuit that poppers up like a leotard, a black balaclava-like hood, enormous clown feet fins and a diving mask. It’s a strong look!


Toppsta
2022-04-28
Our Featured Book for Teens this Month

It’s here we put theory into practice. First up it’s breath hold, where I float on my back attempting to relax before my buddy – a fellow mermaid – rolls me on to my front for as long as I can. I don’t manage long, maybe one minute tops. Then it’s on to duck diving, finning and equalisation – that thing you’re supposed to do when the plane is landing and you make your ears pop. Well, try doing that while holding your breath and pulling yourself along a weighted line upside down in the water. It’s not easy!

 Day Two

We’re out in the sunshine and on the sea at last, with a boat trip along the coast to drop anchor and set up some dive lines – a rope with a float on one end and a weight on the other. The aim is to slowly work your way down with one full breath, equalising the whole distance, before turning the right way up and gradually returning to the surface for a sweet breath of air. In theory anyway.

Cut to me forgetting everything. Or at least the part where you’re not supposed to let go of the rope because you’re panicking about never breathing again. It’s the thought that every pull down into the water’s depths has got to be done again, but upwards, that freaks me out. After all, if my lungs are bursting at the bottom of the line, how am I going to cope getting back to the surface? 

Thankfully, the instructor catches me before I smash my head on the bottom of the boat… 


Toppsta
2022-04-28
Our Featured Book for Teens this Month

The afternoon finds us in a quarry and it's test time! I immediately fail the deep dive to twenty metres. I’m not even sure my fins leave the surface I’m that bad. I can’t do a breath hold of over two minutes. And then there’s the Dynamic apnea distance test – swimming forty metres underwater on one breath…

Jump cut to me staring wide eyed at how far that actually is. Relaxing is pointless, my one full breath is pathetic as I dive down to begin. I’m so terrified, I kick as fast as I can. But it’s the worst thing I can do and I resurface out of breath having only travelled about twenty metres. I think it’s fair to say I’m not going to pass this test…

Day Three

This is it! The day I choose my tail and become a mermaid. I have visions of the photographer cooing over me, given how much a of a water baby I am. Except… Diving down, staying down, trying to keep my bikini top in place, posing for the camera but not staring directly at it (as it makes you go cross-eyed), keeping your face looking serene while holding your breath is … impossible! I think, on second thoughts, I’ll stick to swimming...

So, what’s the moral of this story? It’s that it doesn’t matter if you fail, in fact it’s more important to try. I was terrible at freediving, even worse at being a mermaid! But what came out of it was the inspiration for Coming Up For Air. It’s the seaside story of Coco’s determination for friendship, and she is (fortunately) much more of a natural at freediving than me!


Toppsta
2022-04-28
Our Featured Book for Teens this Month
credit Alastair Scarlett Photography
Book pages Placeholder Book

Coming Up For Air

When Coco moves to the seaside town where her mum grew up, she's excited to make friends and find out more about the family her mum has kept from her. What she doesn't expect is to be met with resentment from the community. Whatever secrets her mum's hiding, they run deep.

But Coco is determined and her love of swimming and natural talent for freediving helps her start to break through with the ocean-loving locals. Until disaster strikes at sea...

As history threatens to repeat itself, will Coco ever be able to undo the age-old rift?

A quirky coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Katy Birchall, GEEK GIRL and SUPER AWKWARD.

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Book pages Placeholder Book

Fig Swims the World

Fig Fitzsherbert is good at a lot of things: making lists, playing the piano, advanced mathematics. But it's never quite enough for her high-flying mother, who every New Year's Day sets Fig an impossible resolution.
So one year, Fig decides to set her own challenge instead: she's going to swim her way round the world. There's just one tiny problem ... Fig can't swim.
Taking it one length at a time, Fig embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. But with her mother closing in, will she be able to keep her head above water and complete her challenge?
A quirky coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Katy Birchall, GEEK GIRL and SUPER AWKWARD.

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