Barely Floating (Hardcover)

Barely Floating By Lilliam Rivera Cover Image
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A dazzling story full of heart about how one twelve-year-old channels her rage into synchronized swimming dreams, from the author of The Education of Margot Sanchez and Never Look Back, Lilliam Rivera.

Natalia de la Cruz Rivera y Santiago, also known as Nat, was swimming neighborhood kids out of their money at the local Boyle Heights pool when her life changed. The L.A. Mermaids performed, emerging out of the water with matching sequined swimsuits, and it was then that synchronized swimming stole her heart.

The problem? Her activist mom and professor dad think it's a sport with too much emphasis on looks—on being thin and white. Nat grew up the youngest in a house full of boys, so she knows how to fight for what she wants, using her anger to fuel her. People often underestimate her swimming skills when they see her stomach rolls, but she knows better than to worry about what people think. Sometimes, she feels more like a submarine than a mermaid, but she wonders if she could be both.

Barely Floating explores what it means to sparkle in your skin, build community with those who lift you up, and keep floating when waters get rough.

About the Author

Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of the young adult novels Dealing in Dreams, The Education of Margot Sanchez, Never Look Back, We Light Up the Sky, and the middle grade novel Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Elle, among others. Her novel Never Look Back is slated for an Amazon movie adaptation.

Praise For…


Booklist Best Books of 2023 (Editor's Choice)
Kobo Best Books of 2023 (Kids)
2024 Rise: A Feminist Book Project List (Middle Grade: Fiction)
2024 Bank Street Best Children’s Books
The Latinidad List Best Latino Books of 2023
First Partner Summer Book Club (First Lady of California, Jennifer Newsome, initiative)

“Rivera’s layered, sparkling middle-grade debut is Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ (2015) by way of Lisa Fipps’ Starfish (2021). . . . Display this empowering novel with Esther Williams’ classic Million Dollar Mermaid.”
Booklist, starred review
"Rivera brings a freshness to a conventional middle-grade story with flowing prose that effortlessly captures the complicated and often conflicting emotions of being a tween, especially one who has to face microaggressions for being fat, brown, Latina, and not rich."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
“In laugh-out-loud, blunt prose, Rivera cultivates a touching and unapologetically positive interpretation of one tween’s desire to break the mold.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A body-positive story of growing up that’s sure to make a splash"
Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593323120
ISBN-10: 0593323122
Publisher: Kokila
Publication Date: August 29th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English