Friday, April 22, 2011

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman

Title: Breathing
Author: Cheryl Renee Herbsman

Publisher: Speak
Release Date: April 16, 2009
Date Read: April 11 - 13, 2011
Rating: 4/5 stars

Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town working at the library and lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one—her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and seems uncertain about returning—Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively

A perfect summer beach read! I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. I've missed reading a plain ol' romance and this was just what I needed. Breathing is one of the most realistic teen romance stories I've read in a long time. 

What made me love Breathing the most was how simple the story was. Of course there was angst, but it was so appropriate and realistic, not only for the characters but for teenagers in general. There wasn't even really an antagonist, just the circumstances of their lives tearing them apart. 

I loved Savannah from the start. A hard-working loving Southern teen who loves to read and can't wait to get out of her small town. Heard it all before, right? Wrong. She didn't adore her friends, she just enjoyed their company. She wasn't a perfect daughter, she often judged and argued with her mother. A lot of teen readers will empathize with Savannah and be rooting for her to achieve her goals. 

But most importantly she suffered from asthma. I've never read a story about asthma before and this definitely made my heart go out to all those who suffer from it. At times I found her attacks very melodramatic and angsty until I realized how realistic and terrifying they would be to experience. I also thought that it would be quite juvenile for Savannah to think she couldn't "breathe" without Jackson and when she had an attack shortly after he left I was fully prepared to give up on reading it. Cheryl totally turned it around though, showing how Savannah learning to "breathe" on her own was more of a metaphor for her independence and growth. Very well done!

I have also never read a novel with such an interesting twist on Southern culture. Rather than just having the characters speak with an accent, Cheryl wrote it into the narration. It worked perfectly!  I often found myself thinking in an accent when writing this review even. 

Favourite Quote: "I ain't never been a big churchgoer. And I don't mean  to be blasphemous or nothing, but right now in this moment, I find myself feeling like a devout member of the church of Love. I reckon Mama would say I'm just a hopeless romantic. Maybe them folks from Jane Eyre's Victorian era would think I'm immoral. But I swear, there ain't nothing else in the world this pure."

Recommended: Sing Me to Sleep (Angela Morrison), Till Death Do Us Part (Lurlene McDaniel), The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)


  1. Great job with not spoiling anything Laura. :) I'll admit I haven't read that many Southern-y novels, but this sounds like a delightful read and those, er, features (the reading and asthma) appeal to me right now. Thanks for the review!


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