Hi guys, today I’m part of the Canadian blog tour for Miranda Kenneally’s latest novel, Breathe, Annie, Breathe! This was a really great read, you guys – I’ve got an interview with Miranda and my review up, so check them out!
Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5)
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (Raincoast Books in Canada)
Source/Format: An eARC was sent by Raincoast in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)
Publication date: July 15th 2014
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
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.
Not sure how it happened that I, a self-professed mostly YA contemp reader, had never read a Miranda Kenneally book until this one. Believe me, I’d heard great things about Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Racing Savannah, and Things I Can’t Forget, but somehow, I just never got around to reading one of her books.
I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to be part of the Canadian blog tour for Breathe, Annie, Breathe, because it’s fantastic. Annie is a seventeen-year old girl who is just graduating high school, and she’s been through a lot in the past year. Her boyfriend Kyle died a year ago, and she’s not over it. In order to honour his memory, though, she’s running the Country Music Marathon in downtown Nashville – Kyle had always dreamed of finishing a marathon, so she’s picking up his stead – but not without a lot of fear, dedication and guts.
Along the way, she ends up meeting Jeremiah Browne, who is her coach Matt’s brother (Matt is the love interest from Things I Can’t Forget). Their attraction to each other is undeniable, but Annie’s not sure she’s ready for anything new, nor does she know if she wants it given that she and Kyle were meant for one another.
Kenneally’s approach to survivor’s guilt, and moving on from death is what makes this book so special. Annie deals with a ton of stuff in BAB, from wistfulness at the end of high school, to the trepidation of starting university, but none resonated for me more than her perseverance and her attempt to move on.
Like in her runs, Annie deals with her grief step by step, breath by breath. She starts running to make herself exhausted so she doesn’t have to think, but as she continues running, it’s like every step falls into place and she’s able to unravel her own feelings of guilt and remorse. It’s a great parallel – the hardship of training for a marathon versus the hardship of dealing with death, and Kenneally makes the most of it without hitting you over the head with the subject.
Annie is a really complex, emotional character – she’s a quiet soul, someone steadfast that you really feel like you can depend on, but someone who loves and feels things deeply. Oh yeah, and she’s pretty sassy, too – I was really rooting for her throughout the book. When BAB begins, Annie is a bit of a loner because of how much she feels for Kyle, but as the book goes on, she really opens up and comes into her own. BAB really looks at Annie’s relationships with her family and friendships, and how they’ve changed in the wake of her loss. It’s fascinating and their interactions feel very real.
That opening up has a lot to do with Jeremiah, who is…really hot, and really into Annie. Their relationship is a bit “one step forwards, two steps backwards” but it works because of how cautious Annie feels like she needs to be. It’s kind of a beautiful unfolding, because Jeremiah is dealing with his own issues that Annie opposes, and it’s only through their love that they become more to each other and to the world.
It’s hard for me to sum up how strong Breathe, Annie, Breathe is – it’s one of those books where mood is everything, and where changes in character happen very subtly. It’s a testament to Kenneally’s writing that Annie and Jeremiah always stay true to who they are, but somehow, when I look back at the beginning of the book, they feel like totally different characters.
Crossover Characters: Readers of other books in Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series will appreciate the glimpses at some of the past MCs – Matt and Kate, Jordan and Sam, and Savannah and Jack all make significant appearances. Even as someone who hasn’t read the earlier books, I noticed their appearance, and it definitely made me want to pick up the other books.
Steamy Scenes: This is my first Kenneally book, so I didn’t expect some of the romance to be as…steamy as it was. But it is. This is definitely mature YA or possibly light NA territory, and it’s written well and will definitely make you fan yourself.
Running Tips: I like running a lot, but I’ve never run seriously before, so learning about all the different things you need as a runner (Vaseline for chafing!) was pretty cool – I also liked reading about the atmosphere of races and even about Annie’s weak stomach – it just made the sport part of the book that much more visceral to me.
The Final Word:
Breathe, Annie, Breathe is one of those books that you want to keep reading and reading, not stopping for food or coffee. It’s very compelling, and the characters are flawed and gorgeously wrought. I really enjoyed it, and I applaud Miranda Kenneally for writing such a meaningful and perceptive look into running and grief, and how those things change us and make us stronger.
About the Author:
Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.
Visit her online at:
1. Why do you choose to write YA books? Have you ever considered writing other genres?
A: I’d love to write adult romance or historical romance. I might try writing adult romance one day, but I’m just too busy with my YA books right now. I also love sci-fi, and would love to try writing another one. I’ve written 3 sci-fis, but they aren’t exactly publishing material! 🙂
2. Recently, there has been a huge trend with dystopian YA novels. Why do you choose to write realistic fiction?
A: To tell you the truth, I would love to write sci-fi or fantasy, but I’ve never been all that great at world-building. I love reading contemporary fiction, and people say you should write what you love reading.
3. If you could have a character from any book (or movie!) to make a cameo in your novels, who would you choose?
A: It would be pretty badass if Professor Dumbledore showed up out of the blue. He could conjure up a banquet, or help my characters apparate to the beach for a party or something.
4. Running the marathon for Kyle was Annie’s way of coping with her stress and grief. What advice would you give others in similar situations of grief or stress?
A: I would say give yourself time to heal. Recognize that everyone’s healing process is different. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel better in a certain amount of time; everyone heals in different ways. If you need to, talk to good friends, your guidance counselor, or a therapist.
5. What advice would you give yourself in high school?
A: Stop spending all your time pining for boys who don’t like you back!
Are you interested in reading BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE? Have you read any of Miranda Kenneally’s other books in the Hundred Oaks series? Are you into running or any other sports? Have you read any other books that deal with grief and resonated? Let me know in the comments!
Want to win Breathe, Annie, Breathe or another July new release? Come by and enter my new release giveaway!