Kvantespring Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die

A freshman in high school, Astrid has spent the majority of her first two semesters shut inside the school’s bathrooms with her sister Cecilie. Inhaling, exhaling, and keeping Cecilie’s breathing calm and paced in a battle against the crippling anxiety that threatens to swallow her sister whole. Astrid has always been a rock to Cecilie, but at home she is caught in the middle between their father, who’s still in denial about his oldest daughter’s condition, and their codependent mother. Weighted by the guilt of not being able to help her sister more, Astrid finds her life increasingly consumed by Cecilie’s. When she crosses paths with a certain Greenlandic boy hell-bent on making her happy, and a friend-snatching know-it-all who threatens her one true friendship, the equation becomes ever more difficult to balance.

Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die is a scintillating coming-of-age tale with a quirky character gallery you’re bound to fall in love with. Placing a highly prevalent issue in the spotlight, this heartbreaking yet life-affirming tale asks whether it’s possible to find your own path without losing something or someone along the way.


Horsens Posten’s Book of the Year Award (Best Young Adult Novel of the Year) Denmark 2021
Shortlisted for the Mofibo Awards (Best YA) Denmark 2021
Close award list


  • “Lise Villadsen’s In Your Orbit is a nuanced and thoughtful account of the impact of mental illness on a family. The narrative is both sympathetic to Cecilie’s struggles and honest about the frustrations and disruptions they present to Astrid. /…/ This is a moving and memorable novel.”

    Irish Times, Ireland

  • Although Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die wasn’t easy reading, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel by Lise Villadsen. The writing style made it easy for me to like the book, as it was wonderfully easy to read, yet also poetic and unique. /…/ Although the story is only told from Astrid’s point of view, all of the events felt extremely authentic and I was able to understand the different perspectives. (…) In my opinion, the different feelings that arose were described in an extremely credible way. /…/ All in all, the novel is emotionally demanding, but for that very reason it is absolutely worth reading. 

    Was liest du? Magazin, Germany

  • There’s a fine line between self-abandonment and being caring – and the longing to be carefree and happy, Lise Villadsen captured this very well. With a delicate and extremely sensitive manner, she succeeds in describing the complex dynamic of a family that is falling apart. Touching and thought-provoking. /…/ The author knows just how to put Astrid’s contradictory feelings into words, uses atmospheric imagery and describes the complex family structure, in which her parents also play a large part, in a very compassionate way.”


    Kasimira, Germany

  • For all John Green fans. A beautiful love story!

    Kortenkamp.de, Germany

  • “[Lise Villadsen] has written a touching book that will appeal to many young people, and not just because of its topic. The character Astrid narrates the story from her perspective and allows the reader to share in her emotional turmoil. It’s about trust, about feelings of guilt, about love, responsibility, but also about setting oneself apart from others. Reading this exciting story about such central human issues is particularly suitable for girls from around 13 years upwards.”

    N/W, Switzerland

  • “ Atmospheric, touching and romantic. ”

    WDR, Germany

  • [The reviewer] is amazed at the ease with which Lise Villadsen addresses problematic family relationships and the emotional state of young people.  /…/ In addition, the reader learns about the delicate handling of mental illness and Danish high school life.

    Perlentaucher, Germany

  • “The author Lise Villadsen, who explores intricate family relationships and precarious juvenile emotional states in her work with a light pen, is an innovative new great in Danish youth literature. /…/ [Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die] thrives on the interplay between the the theme of depression and the witty dialogues of quirky characters in a sunny setting /…/ Lise Villadsen accomplishes to capture the [Cecilie’s] self-pity and self-hatred as well as the incomprehension and trivialization within the pseudo-understanding environment.”

    Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany

  • This Danish novel is profound, funny and captivating, in a way that makes you devour it with growing interest.

    VRM Tageszeitungen, Germany

  • “In recent years, we've seen a number of books for young people dealing with mental illness. Lise Villadsen's novel is a particularly attuned and moving one. The author writes very poetically and with an exquisite sense of humour. ”

    NDR Kultur, Germany

  • “A first class psychological drama.”

    Politiken, Denmark

  • “With Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die Lise Villadsen has written both an important and heart wrenching story about what mental illness can do to a family. /…/ It’s rather liberating to experience the anxiety depicted in [the novel] from the next of kin’s perspective and in that way grasp its enormous consequences. /…/ Lise Villadsen’s novel is a page-turner that’s empathetic and in its own ways a bright telling about Cecilie, Astrid and their parents’ unbearable spring. A spring that fortunately ends on a hopeful note.”

    Bogbotten, Denmark

  • “A fantastic and bittersweet novel about a topic that can be difficult to talk about. /…/ Lise Villadsen has written a relevant book that takes the bad with the good. A novel that many young people will be able to see themselves in.”

    Århus Onsdag, Denmark

  • “I have just finished reading Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die by Lise Villadsen, and let me tell you, it was so good! I have rarely gone through a book this quickly.”

    Ke.Bookcorner, Denmark

  • “Spellbound and with a lump in my throat I read the final pages. The lump turns into small tears and with a deep sigh I close the book. Is it really over? /…/ I have read Lise Villadsen’s Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die and let me just say: It’s a very good book and I want to recommend it widely, to many more than the YA target group it’s technically written for. /…/ It’s also so wonderfully life-affirming to read about this kind of budding first love. And so, I just want to say two words: Read it!”

    Mit Bogskap, Denmark

  • “In this narrative, the next of kin to people affected by mental health problems get a voice. /…/ One feels the joy, anger, insecurity, frustration, troubles and infatuations – the whole emotional spectrum is represented, and one gets drawn into the narrative. /…/ A well-written, relevant young adult novel. /…/ A book that deserves to be read by the youths of today.”

    Litteratur til danskfaget, Denmark

  • “Lise Villadsen phenomenally depicts the sinister, inappropriate and unhealthy pattern of Astrid’s family. It’s furiously realistic and my sympathies were tested throughout the read. /…/ A really great novel that deserves to be read by readers of all ages.”

    Bogblogger.dk, Denmark

  • “So well-written, relevant and thought-provoking. Absolutely highly recommendable!”


    Tour de Library, Denmark

  • Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die is truly a wonderful story. Perhaps wonderful isn’t entirely the right word, but I’ll use it all the same. Because even if the story is both tough and a tad bit sad, it’s also just wonderful. Tough, because let’s be honest, it portrays a rather taboo subject: anxiety. It can be really hard for people to grasp what it’s like to suffer from anxiety. /…/ All this, and much more, Lise manages to describe in the loveliest way. As a reader, one never doubts the struggles going inside Astrid’s head and they are painful to read. But books that hurt in this way are extremely important. They get your thoughts going. And perhaps they give us a better understanding of the people around us, or the insight or courage to put your foot down and do what you want and desire, rather than always putting yourself second (or third, or fourth…).


    Forestilling om paradiset, Denmark

  • “A truly well-written young adult novel. It gives a great insight into what it’s like to live in a family, where someone is affected by anxiety.”

    Roskilde Avis, Denmark

  • “Lise Villadsen truly knows how to write people in a way that makes you understand them. Astrid’s split feelings. The best friend’s doubts about whether Astrid can keep a promise. The mother’s worries. It’s all simply so well-written, one feels for and like all the characters. Hugely recommended!”

    Boernebognanza, Denmark

  • “A fantastic book that I also want to recommend to adults.”

    Enlillebog, Denmark

  • “I thought the book nicely captured the nuances in the relationships, outlined and portrayed them excellently. The story was very emotionally charged. I believe everyone with siblings can relate, at least partly, to feeling in the way or overlooked when your parents have to give more focus to a sibling than yourself. I am so glad to have read it, and I definitely want to recommend you give it a try.”

    Acolorfulreader, Denmark

  • “It’s the first time I read anything by Lise Villadsen, but it sure won’t be the last. It’s rare that a book reawakens so many old emotions, the way this one did. If you were/are a Cecilie or an Astrid, you will recognize yourself in both and feel for them both. And I really just want more books written by Lise, okay? Recommended to EVERYONE.”

    Bogdoktor, Denmark

  • “An excellently well-written novel. /…/ Lise Villadsen manages in the most fantastic way to give insight into the thoughts and frustrations that this family face. As a parent of a young adult struggling with anxiety, I recognized the everyday life and the frustrations outlined in this novel. I can only recommend siblings and parents of young people suffering from anxiety to read this book.”

    Litteratursiden, Denmark

  • “I just…I mean…but…how could I possibly start to describe what a huge impression this novel made on me? /…/ This book took me through the entire emotional registry. At times I could physically feel the knot in Astrid’s stomach, all the weight that was added to her shoulders. /…/ [Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die] simply blows the scale for the word ‘well-written’ out of the waters. The language is so incredibly vivid, and you feel the pain, the happiness and powerlessness through the words. This novel will stay with me for a long time.”


    Annemaireads, Denmark

  • Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die by Lise Villadsen is a brilliant YA novel. /…/ It is a spot-on portrayal of being next of kin to someone with acute anxiety. Lise Villadsen doesn’t only hit the nail on the head – she hammers it all the way home. The novel’s characters are all truly well-written and explored just deep enough to make me understand every one of them. /…/ This book ought to be used in teaching young people. It ought to be read by young people. And by their parents too.


    Juliethebookcat, Denmark

  • “This is [Lise Villadsen’s] best work to date. Here she delivers a solid, brutal and raw narrative with so many themes that it would comprise an entire bachelor’s thesis to outline them all in this review. I have cried many times throughout this book, and I can see myself in both Astrid and Cecilie. /…/ Both of the girls’ problems, personalities and lives are portrayed to the reader in such a manner that no matter whether you’ve experienced anxiety/mental health problems in life or not, you feel all the emotions at play. /…/ I truly want to recommend the novel to everyone. /…/ With this novel Villadsen succeeds in putting words to taboos such as anxiety and dysfunctional family ties – and she does so with such a brutal honesty, that one as the reader leans back, lost for words. Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die is a relevant, important, and not the least brutal, tale about whether to dare or not dare to live your life. /…/ Villadsen delivers a power performance, and if you only read one book this year, promise me it will be Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die. It’s not a secret that Lise Villadsen is one of the most accomplished YA writers we have. She has nevertheless even outdone herself with Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die. /…/ It’s powerful, moving, and without a doubt, one of the best books I will read in 2020.”


    Xeniasbogblogg, Denmark

  • Six out of five stars (I haven’t made a mistake, this is my second exception for books that break the scale). Nothing could prepare me for the kind of masterpiece that Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die,  turned out to be. Lise’s books deserve stars, loads of them, but Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die is above stars. I don’t want to go into details, seeing as I in no satisfactory way could ever describe this through and through breathtaking novel, but I do want to write, that I became sad listening to it. Happy. Had a sore conscience. The whole package. /…/ Lise hits you so spot on, that I probably need be examined for internal bleedings. Write, Lise! Bloody write! I demand more in this style.


    Ordnarkoman, Denmark

  • “The fact that Lise Villadsen is an accomplished writer few can argue with – and notice my choice of words. Accomplished. Writing a book is not simply telling a story. It’s about writing a story that makes the proper waves and places emphasis in the right places. That Lise manages to do AND she achieves the feat of making us understand and feel with all the characters. It’s never just black and white. /…/ Those of us who are fortunate not to be 17 anymore are sent back to the emotional turmoil, the insecurities and the fervent excitement of infatuation. It’s all excellently done. I wouldn’t want to change as much as a letter. This is one of those books that will make a difference for many, many young people. So, make sure they get it. /…/ We nowadays often hear from people with anxiety (and yay for that), but we shall also remember to listen to and SEE their closest kin. Lise does. Thank you for that.”

    Bibliotekat, Denmark

  • “This book is nothing less than a small miracle. Present, relevant and so well-written it will give you goosebumps. /…/ Lise Villadsen is able to portray each and every one of her characters so realistically, I’m left feeling as if I know them personally. More even – that I understand every single character: I can tell Astrid’s stomach is knotting, I feel Cecilie’s tears on my own cheek, I’m the mother cooking in the kitchen as her family withdraws from one another, and I’m the father lacing his running shoes to escape it all. Read this book no matter what else you had planned to read this year – it is utterly fantastic!”


    Fantiske Familie Bøger, Denmark

  • “What I particularly like about Villadsen’s books is that she populates them with ordinary, sympathetic people and believable plotlines without ever talking down to her readers. Highly recommended.”

    Basaugerbooks, Denmark

  • “Even if the book deals with a rather heavy and sad subject matter, it’s hard not to laugh there in between. Lise Villadsen has created sarcastic and humorous characters that play so well off one another that one can’t help but to be entertained. /…/ In several ways, Lise Villadsen manages to put words to the feeling that many of us struggle to talk about. It’s a very emotionally charged story, where the people and the relationships they form make it difficult to put the book down.”

    Bookeater.dk, Denmark

  • “I’ve read my way through Lise Villadsen’s authorship, and I’m a fan! I have just finished reading Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Die and it’s my absolute favorite out of her novels. /…/ [It] gives such great insight into what it’s like to be family to someone suffering from anxiety. /…/ The story is excellently told in an accessible language. /…/ I can’t recommend this book enough – it’s tough, sad, and gripping, but also fortunately comforting – and insanely important! Everyone – just EVERYONE – ought to read it.”

    Frk_west, Denmark

  • “A young adult novel that hurts. /…/ A truly well-written, moving and realistic novel.”

    Kulturstationen, Denmark

Photo: Anders Heinrichsen Lise Villadsen
  • Young Adult
Reading material

Danish edition

English translation

Rights sold

Albania, Shkupi

Croatia, Hena com

Czech Republic, Fragment

Denmark, Gyldendal

Germany, Oetinger

Hungary, Metropolis Media

Korea, Pinkwhale

Latvia, Latvijas Mediji

Slovenia, Mladinska

UK, Little Tiger Group

Film rights sold

UK, Kiddo Films

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