|Read from July 10 to July 13, 2014|
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Number of Pages: 306
Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley
A Contemporary novel can either be a hit or a miss for me. I find that I do have a different level of expectation when reading one. I don't know if this is because I assume that I will mostly end up not liking the book or if it is because I'm reading something so close to ordinary life that it's not as mindblowing or exciting as, say, a dystopian or a fantasy world. Either way, managing my expectations prior to reading, works almost perfectly well in influencing how I would feel about a Contemporary novel.
The problem comes in when a book doesn't do hit or miss. When the book just wants to plop right there in the middle grey area, waving its freak flag while saying, "YOU CAN'T CATEGORIZE ME WOMAN!" Breathe, Annie, Breathe is the perfect example of this kind of books.
As always, characters are a huge deal for me. The pacing could be dreadful, the world-building lacking, the writing lackluster, but as long as the characters can carry the story, you can still get me. And the thing is I felt so much conflicting emotions with Annie, our main protagonist. Sometimes I like her guts, sometimes she makes me want to kiss my feet—I'm not flexible so you should know how painful this is. She might have made some of her decisions due to grief and guilt, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. She just couldn't make up her damn mind all the freaking time, and I believe it would bug even the most patient readers.
And then she met gorgeous Jeremiah, the epitome of hotness, with yummy shoulders and holy ab muscles and piercing blue eyes, and... What? I'm just using Annie's description here. Can you feel the sarcasm radiating? Because let's be honest, I don't get it. I don't get it why they hooked up that time they were alone together even when they barely knew each other. I don't get it why they are attracted to each other except by their obvious inherent hotness (duh!). I don't get it why she needed Jeremiah so she could finish the race. I don't get it why it must be a boy, in the first place, that makes her feel alive again. Jeremiah doesn't make me swoon. He is a male protagonist I've read about before. A caricature of a great guy who would complement Annie. I even have to look up his name because I forgot it already.
But when I scratch all of those that I don't get and throw it out of my mind trash bin, I'm good. Breath, Annie, Breathe is a decent read. It's undemanding and accessible. It was almost heartwarming. I felt a slight tug in my heart in the end, although I'm not sure if it's because Annie finished the race, or because she finally got her HEA with Jeremiah. I admit I was more invested with Annie finishing her race than with her relationship with Jeremiah.
Of course, I have to recognized that I appreciated the overall theme of this book, which is finding yourself. Annie had let her deceased boyfriend Kyle and their relationship define who she is. Since all she needed was Kyle, when she had a falling out with her best friend, she just let it happened. She didn't realize she depended on him so much that's why when he unexpectedly died, she found herself lost and alone for the first time.
That's why I love this line from Annie's mom so much: a guy should fit into your life, Annie not become it.
Isn't that the truth? That before everything else you should be your own person. There were also times, in the latter part of the book, that Annie surprised me. Like when she finally realized having a balance in life is important so she started hanging out with other people. Or when she accepted that she wasn't really the one to blame for Kyle's passing and turning him down was not a bad thing because it doesn't mean she didn't love him, but it's because she had a dream for herself. Seeing her like that is glorious, my friends.
Breathe, Annie, Breathe is my first Miranda Keneally novel. I'm kind of apprehensive because I didn't think I'd rip this book as much as I did. There were some good points, but ultimately my gripe with the characters got the better part of my reading experience, hence the rating. However, I am sure that many Contemporary fans would gobble this up and even love it, it's just wasn't able to grab me.
A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.