Barely Floating (Hardcover)
Natalia De La Cruz Rivera y Santiago, also known as Nat, was swimming neighborhood kids out of their money at the local Inglewood pool when her life changed. The LA 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, often 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. Still, she feels more like a submarine than a mermaid, but she wonders if she might 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.
★ “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"