Book Review: Coming Up For Air by Lou Abercrombie

“I can’t face being shunned by anyone else. Not being even the chance for them to get to know me.”

Thank you to Little Tiger for this review copy.

Coco and her mum, Min, are moving from London to the seaside town where Min grew up. Coco is expecting it to be great fun; she’s a budding film director and hopes this will help her to make a great film. But life by the sea isn’t what she was expecting. Min is hard work and Coco is often the one having to do the parenting, which is hard to read and made me feel sorry for her. Everyone at the seaside hates her mum, but noone will tell her why.

Min is keeping a lot of secrets from Coco, about what happened when she last lived in the town and about her father, Billy. It is frustrating for the reader, but so much worse for Coco and it takes most of the book and a near disaster for us to get the answers. It’s worth the wait.

Coco tries so hard to make friends but borders on being irritating with her constant cheerfulness, pushiness and filming people without their consent. But the reactions the kids in the town have when they find out who her mum is are nasty, bordering on bulling. It’s a very cliquey town; if you’re not a Fish (a native) then you’re a Zombie or a Cuckoo (holiday maker or non-native) and they take those labels incredibly seriously. I found it really uncomfortable at times. The parents are just as bad as the kids in the way they treat Min. Min and her brother Henry have reverted to being children and fighting with each other. She meets a girl called Wanda, who is is delightful and brings a ray of sunshine to things, but outside of that, Coco is not having a great time.

She tries to find some peace and comfort in swimming, which she has always loved, and that’s where she meets Leo, a grouchy local boy. I didn’t have much time for him when he first appeared, but he grew on me. They both love to swim. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story; I’d be far too scared their free swimming myself but it was enjoyable to read about.

This is a cleverly written book with some really tense moments; there was one particular scene where my heart was in my mouth. Lou writes so beautifully about swimming and the sea that it makes you feel like you’re really there experiencing it all with Coco. If you enjoy a great summer story with a family mystery and a side order of slight peril, this is absolutely the book for you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: