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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Author: Miranda Kenneally
ISBN: 9781402284793
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: July 15, 2014
Page #: 307
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can't escape the guilt that if she hadn't broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to run.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she's at war with her body, her mind - and her heart. With every mile that her training partner, Jeremiah, cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms... and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line."
First Lines: (Quoted from the galley - see final copy for edits)

"As a kid, I had the worse mile time ever. 
Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test. I'd huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground."
Page 3

It's not very often that a book is set in and around Nashville. So, of course, I had to give this one a shot.

After her boyfriend dies, Annie decides that she has to finish the marathon that he was training for. She's not a runner, though, so she has to go through a fairly grueling training process to even think about finishing the marathon. Along the way, she meets lots of amazing people who have their own demons. Not to mention there's a guy she doesn't expect... and he starts some feeling she's not sure she is ready for. It's all a mess and she's worried that she doesn't even have the strength to finish the race.

I'm always a fan of stories about mental toughness overcoming physical pain and heartbreak. Annie has all of this. She's dealing with the death of her long-term boyfriend - a death that she's convinced she could have prevented. As she finished up high school, there are lots of things she never thought she would have to do on her own. She gets stronger both mentally and physically throughout the course of the book - and it's not without its bumps and hurtles.

Of course, I loved all of the Nashville area markers. It's kind of fun to read about a place I know so well. For me, that was almost worth reading the book altogether. There were a few places that I'd never heard of, so I wonder if they were made up for the purpose of the book. But it worked well and I could easily imagine those trails and the places they stopped... This probably just means there need to be more books set here.

The story spans several months because you start with Annie's first training sessions. Throughout that time, she graduates high school and starts college with some unlikely friends. I appreciate that the author didn't cut any corners because of the timing. I imagine training for a marathon takes at least that long. But you do wonder if there are some things missing because you're only getting the highlights from those months. On the other hand, it allows you to imagine what her life is like other times - which is probably pretty normal.

Because the book spans so much time, that really makes it a lot easier to believe the romance that blooms throughout. It's not fast. Annie wants to take it slow because of her past - and because of who the guy is. It's just really sweet and shows what it can be like when two people are totally falling for each other. With it branching into college, you can imagine she's dealing a little bit with more adult situations of living on her own, but it's well done.

I also enjoy that Annie doesn't come from some amazing background or privilege. She has to work for everything she wants - quite literally. She has to spend her time as a waitress so that she can earn enough money for her training sessions and books for college. I really liked reading about someone who has goals and is willing to work hard for them. And I feel like there might be a lot of kids in that sort of situation who might benefit from hearing her voice.

I would recommend this book for upper YA readers because of all the college stuff. It's sort of a sports book with all of the running and extreme sports. And it would probably be more for wanna-be athletes rather than people who are already good at it. :) But it's a good story and I had a fun time reading it. I think some teens will have the same experience.
Other Blog Reviews:

Teen Librarian Toolbox
Dear Author
A Bookish Escape
Just a Couple More Pages
Effortlessly Reading
Snuggly Oranges
Hey, Library Girl!
The Talking Bookworm
Smitten Over Books

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