Sunday, August 10, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

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 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.
So, I know I probably say this every time this author comes out with a new book, but I think this one is my favorite so far. Seriously, if you like YA contemporaries at all, you need to give this author a try. She has her genre in the bag.
If there is any one thing I have learned this past year (in my personal life), it is that everyone grieves differently. I completely understood how and why Annie did the things she did after losing someone so important to her. And the whole idea of running the marathon for her dead boyfriend, and completing something he never had the chance to do, is just so strong, noble, and powerful. How can you not cheer on such an endeavor?
Besides the sometimes sad, and rather powerful plot this book also had some remarkable characters. I loved Annie’s brother. I found her relationship with him and her mother so believable and so flawed. My heart ached for her mother. And my heart ached for every awkward situation Annie had to endure with her dead boyfriend’s friends, family, and community.
And I guess the word, “community” is rather important too. Annie had a community of support from whom she sometimes leaned on, but could always rely on (in regards to the people of her town, her college, and her family). But, even greater was the community she built outside of that with all the other runners.
I found the running culture to be fascinating. I am so not an athletic person. I have never enjoyed running, and forcing myself to exercise each week is hard. I feel like this is the first YA book I’ve read that really talks about the pains of running. There’s a lot of YA characters out there who enjoy running, or did it for escape, but I’ve never seen it broken down this way before, and it sounded so brutal and intense. Between running schedules, hours with the trainer, dietary restrictions, soar knees, upset stomachs, and chafing this just never seemed all that pretty or enticing. And I guess this made me love Annie so much more. She was willing to give so much for this sport to honor her boyfriend.
I liked getting pieces of the past throughout the whole book. You don’t learn how he died until almost the end. I also loved all scenes involving Jeremiah. It was interesting to get a character into extreme sports (another YA first for me). And I loved the how the two characters first met. I was shipping them for the whole book. It was beyond adorable. I guess there are a few things in here that are a bit over the top adorable, but instead of finding it cheesy in this story, I loved every second of it.
I feel like all I’m doing is gushing. And maybe I am. I hope Kenneally keeps writing more. I give this one a 10/10.

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