Thanks for the free book, @PRHGlobal/@prhinternational !
“Breathless is, in many ways, even more personal for me than All the Bright Places. It’s the book I needed when I was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen; a frank take on sex and love, divorce, disappearing floors, finding yourself, and the importance of writing your story.”
Jennifer Niven’s introduction says it all.
I have read and loved All the Bright Places and was thrilled to get this ARC of Breathless.
I honestly savored this book. The author had a way of making nature and the island’s history with its ghosts and past feel like one of the main characters.
This is an October read but would be perfect as a summer read as you have days spend in the heat and humidity of a Georgian’s summer.
The characters are raw and messy. They try to figure out life while dealing with heartbreak caused by their families and at the dawn of a new page in their life.
Claudine is at a pivotal moment in her life.
She has finished high school, was due to go to college in Fall after the roadtrip of her life with her best friend. Only …the floor drops under her feet when her dad announces that he can’t “do” the family man anymore.
“The cat will go with us and the dog will stay with my dad. Even our pets are separating.”
Forget the roadtrip, she’ll go with her mother on an island off the coast of Georgia to regroup.
Jennifer Niven did a splendid job writing all the feelings of Claudine suddenly robbed of her life, of her family. Some pivotal scenes happened twice. Once as Claudine experienced them, imagined and dramatic then, a second time as it really happened still shocking but more nuanced. This writing trick had me really breathing Claudine’s anguish, anger and sadness.
“I am a person other people feel the need to keep things from, and all the things I thought were truths aren’t actually truths.”
I was also revolted by what her parents asked of her! To keep silent. That’s the worst thing you could ask from someone whose world has just been turned upside down!
When both mother and daughter arrive on the island, there is no wifi, no cars, nothing but an inn, campers, nature and some shops.
The island is special as it’s where Claudine’s ancestors have lived, loved and some died dramatically.
Needless to say that the first day, Claudine is nursing a broken heart, not understanding why her father can’t be her father any longer. She is angry, rebellious. All kind of emotions churning inside her head.
But soon she’ll cross path with Jeremiah or Miah.
He is a boy like none other. Shoeless, aloof, free. But he too is nursing some wounds. When Claudine decides that she wants to have sex with him, that’s meant to be just sex, not love…you can imagine how this will go.
This is a story of personal growth. A story of resilience too as having parents divorcing is a real drama. It’s also a time to discover who you want to be. Who you are.
There will be brash decisions and reckless behaviors. Some Claudine will come to regret but that rang so true and made the story even more relatable.
There will be confusion, fear and betrayal as Claudine does not understand what would make her suddenly un-loveable by her father, nor why her best friend kept some secrets from her and seems suddenly to forget Claudine.
I found this a very human tale, one I think any teenager will easily relate to but also, any adults as Claudine’s feelings are universal. The story was vibrant, alive and I wanted to walk on these beaches, looking for old turtles and shark teeth. Maybe one day I’ll go look for such island off the coast of Georgia, where the time seems to get suspended.
Here is one last parting quote, its’ the key to resilience when the floor is robbed under your feet.
“The thing you can count on is that at some point something bad will happen. Which makes things like blood moons and treasure hunting and you even more important.”
Have you read it already?
Thanks for reading!