PW #216: Middle Grade Contemporary Magical Realism: BREATHING UNDERWATER

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Ellie Terry
Mentee Name: Sarah Allen
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary Magical Realism
Word Count: 46,000


While on the cross-country road trip of her dreams, Olivia hopes to acquire the perfect shot for the National Geographic Photo Contest, but when her sister Ruth’s depression takes a turn for the worse, Olivia’s determined to do all she can to save her sister—even teaming up with a bearded motorcyclist no one else can see.


My big sister’s bladder is the size of a pea. We’ve stopped for bathroom breaks at least three times since we left Knoxville a few hours ago. If Mom were here, she’d say Ruth was doing it on purpose, making us stop all the time. But I don’t mind.

The loft of the RV already feels like my bedroom back home. I’ve got my biography of Anne Bonny, my stack of National Geographic magazines, and of course my stuffed killer whale Murphy that no amount of eye-rolling from Ruth could make me leave behind. I tried to sneak him into my backpack before Ruth noticed, but she saw him and said, “Really, Olivia? Are you thirteen or three?” Mom made her apologize. Then we climbed into the RV and took off. Mom’s cousin Eddie, the one driving, gave a whoop when we got onto the freeway. I wanted to whoop, too, but it would have bugged Ruth.

My head is pressed against the window, where I can look at the lollipop sky and the passing trees and the tops of cars that look small from up here. I wish I could see it all at once, and never stop looking. I’ve got that whole stack of National Geographic magazines, but I’m so distracted I haven’t needed them yet. Even the telephone poles look beautiful today. If my new camera had come in time, nothing would be safe.



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