Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe

Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Published: July 15th, 2014
Hardcover, 306 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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 honour his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more gruelling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she's at war with her body, her mind - and her heart. With every mile that athletic 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 ever more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

Entering back into Hundred Oaks made me smile and Annie's story was just as hard and heartbreaking as every other girl I've met throughout this series. Annie is racked with guilt over her ex boyfriend's death, feeling as though he would still be alive if she hadn't broken up with him. So she plans on running the marathon he would have been running that year, a marathon she is in no way ready to run. She begins her training, her life revolving around miles and food intake, beginning the hard journey to the finish line. Along the way, she meets Jeremiah, a guy who makes her feel things she hasn't felt in a long time and someone that could easily help her guilty mind. But the closer she gets to Jeremiah and the finish line, the more she pulls away, not knowing if by finishing the race she'll actually be able to forgive herself.

Annie deals with so much in this book. She's finishing high school, about to start university and trying to focus all her energy on this race. She deals with her grief step by step, breath by breath. It's wonderful to see how her running relates to her feelings, we can see it in the writing as she pushes through everything to get to the other side. Kenneally hits the nail on the head in this one, comparing running to death, the hardships involved with both. Annie is a complex character who can't forgive herself for doing something she knew in her heart was what she needed to do. The consequences rack her brain and they stop her from moving on with her life and with Jeremiah. Her relationship with Jeremiah is fast yet slow, steady yet super uneven. Annie is cautious, but her heart is at war with her head and it's such a familiar feeling, one most people have felt, that it was so unbearably real to read. Their love story was lovely and I loved reading it, even though I wasn't sure if they'd make it through most of the time. Jeremiah is a wonderful counterpart to Annie, he believes in her and let her know that she doesn't need to do anything to get better, she just needs to push through it.

I loved seeing some familiar friends again. Matt is Annie's coach and we vaguely met Jeremiah in Things I Can't Forget, which makes me happy that he gets to be the hero of his own story. This book is touching, sad, and uplifting all at once and even though I know nothing about running, I was pulled into the story as Annie ran and ran until she could finally forgive herself. A great book that looks at grief, love, and growing up in a different way than usual an in a way that will leave you smiling.

"Maybe you don't have to figure life out at all. Maybe it just is."

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