After a nice little break last week wherein I played with WordPress until I kind of have the hang of it (I still have a lot to learn — there’s just so much you can do with it, which means a steeper learning curve than Blogger), I’m back! *waves* Hope everyone’s having a great summer (or winter, if you’re down under)!Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on July 15, 2014
Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance
The finish line is only the beginning... 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 race. 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 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 even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.
As always, Miranda Kenneally delivers. She writes a fabulous summer read…a fabulous anytime read, actually. This is the fifth installment in the Hundred Oaks series (Anyone else think of Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods when you read that? Just me, then? Okay.) and, like the others, it can easily be read as a standalone. Of course, by the time we get to book five, there are plenty of character “friends” — people you’re happy to catch up with again and see how they’re doing. Series like these are kind of like Facebook — you get a little check-in, a “hey, how are you doing” and then you’re back in your world again.
I think I connect with Annie a bit more than some other characters because she’s attempting to train for a marathon and, well, I’m attempting to run more than three miles in a row without collapsing on my treadmill and giving myself treadmill burn. It’s similar, right? Sure. Annie’s running because of her boyfriend, who passed away before he could complete his dream of running a marathon. She doesn’t love it but it helps her face her demons.
And, yay, there’s a cute boy who’s helping out his brother that she connects with. Not in the love way at first but as a fellow runner (though he’s *much* better at it than her. Hey, getting to be good at running takes serious time and commitment!). The only problem is that Jeremiah is an adrenaline junkie who likes to push his limits and has hurt himself many times, which freaks Annie out, considering her last boyfriend died. But he’s good for her, as he slowly drags her back into the land of the living. As she improves in her running, she also works to improve her life — reconnect with her family and friends, relationships she’s let slip since her loss.
Kenneally is great at writing strong characters who leap off the page. Annie’s been dealt a harsh blow for someone so young and she hasn’t handled it all that well, sinking into her pain. But I loved seeing her work through her issues as she improved at running and to meet her goals. The same with Jeremiah, as he deals with his addiction to living on the edge (his mother’s kicked him out because she can’t handle the pain of dealing with her injured son). Even the secondary characters fly off the pages.
While this book reads light, it goes so much deeper than I expected. Recovery from a loss, dealing with an addiction, rebuilding a life — not easy subjects but handled with a deft hand so that they didn’t get too dark. There’s so much lightness and hope in this story and that makes it a perfect summer read.
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