She applied the Page 69 Test to The Art of Not Breathing, her first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:Visit Sarah Alexander's website.COLIN: What did one tide say to the other tide?Page 69 of The Art of Not Breathing falls on one of the chapter breaks which give space to a series of ocean jokes. The jokes included at these breaks are from Eddie’s joke book and the pages feature other characters telling the jokes to each other. They are a way of keeping Eddie at the forefront of the story as well as pointing to each character’s own story. This particular joke perfectly captures the mood of the book because it’s about not communicating – the issue at the heart of the novel. Each character deals very privately with their loss, to the point of not ever talking about their pain, or much else. They have become bystanders in each other’s lives.
CELIA: I don’t know, what did one tide say to the other?
COLIN: Nothing, it just waved.
The joke also hints at the watery theme of the book – the ocean is what has torn the Main family apart – it represents fear, loss and the unknown – but it’s also what brings them back together. Elsie, the teenage protagonist in the book discovers the beauty of the undersea world and, through it, starts to live again. Throughout the story, Elsie remembers Eddie’s jokes and they are a part of him that she can hang on to.