Project Description

Head Above Water
Teacher’s Guide

Head Above Water

by S. L. Rottman

Between caring for her disabled brother, swimming on the swim team, keeping her grades up, and making time for her boyfriend, Skye is barely keeping her head above water.

For a sixteen-year-old high school junior, Skye has a lot on her plate. With her mother holding down two jobs to support the family since Skye’s father left years ago, Skye is given the primary responsibility of caring for her older brother Sunny, who has Down syndrome.

Skye’s relationship with her brother constantly challenges and sometimes frustrates her. All the while, Skye is trying to maintain her 3.5 GPA, and she is training intensely to qualify for the state championships as a member of her high school swim team, in hopes of earning a college scholarship. She is also struggling to come to terms with her feelings for her boyfriend, who wants more from her than she is ready to give.

As Skye attempts to face these challenges, she grows up and gains new perspective into what is truly important in her life.

Hardcover: $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-185-2
Total Pages: 224
Size: 6 x 9
Language: English
Paperback: $6.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-238-5
Total Pages: 224
Size: 5 x 7 1/2
Language: English
Format: E-book
ISBN: 978-1-56145-648-2
Age Range: 12 – 16
Language: English

Purchase this E-book through the following vendors:

Baker & Taylor
Barnes & Noble
Recorded Books

Accelerated Reader
AR Quiz#: 31899
AR Reading Level: 3.8
AR Points: 9

F&P (Fountas & Pinnell)
F&P Level: Z+
F&P Grade: 9th and up

Reading Counts
Reading Counts Level: 6.7
Reading Counts Points: 15


“This is an involving and often suspenseful read. Skye is doing her best to keep afloat, trying to balance her desires and her obligations, and readers will empathize with her conflicts. Her tumultuous relationship with Sunny, a mixture of love, irritation, pride, and guilt, is believably depicted, and so are her reactions to Mike. The swimming scenes are also realistically describe; the author is a high school swim coach and English teacher, and she conveys well the hard work and excitement of the sport.” ―Kliatt

“…through it all, Skye remains a sympathetic, multidimensional character whose emotional growth is compelling and believable.” ―Booklist

“…believable characters and realistic teenage social situations.” ―Foreword


Best Books for Young Adults ―YALSA 2000

Tayshas High School Reading List ―Texas Library Association 2000-2001

South Dakota Teen Choice Book Award (list) ―South Dakota Library Association 2001

Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (Get Your Game On) ―YALSA 2008

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Colorado Book Awards (finalist, Young Adult category) ―Colorado Center for the Book 2000

Oklahoma Book Awards (finalist, children/young adult category) ―Oklahoma Center for the Book 2000

Kentucky Bluegrass Awards (Master List, grades 9-12) ―Kentucky Reading Association, Kentucky School Media Association 2002

Sequoyah Book Awards (Young Adult Masterlist) ―Oklahoma Library Association 2002

Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award (nominee, juvenile literature) ―International Council for Exceptional Children/Division on Developmental Disabilities 2003 

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Meet the Author

S.L. Rottman is a former teacher and the author of several young adult novels. A graduate of Colorado State University, Rottman lives in Colorado. You can visit her website here.