Friday, September 18, 2009

Review: Breathless

Jessica Warman
2009; Walker Books for Young Readers; 978-0-80279-849-7 (hardcover)

Summary: Katie has always looked up to her older brother Will. He's the impulsive, dynamic one to Katie's more cautious personality. Yet as Will slowly slips into the madness of schizophrenia, the whole family crumbles. Sent to a second-rate boarding school after Will attempts suicide, Katie tries to put her past behind her. So it's easy to say that her brother is dead. For three years, Katie goes to classes and hangs out with her friends and leads the swim team. But when the truth about her brother is finally revealed, Katie has to stop treading water and learn how to cut through the water.

In an insightful coming-of-age novel, the subject of mental illness is addressed. We see the impact of Will's instability on Katie as well as the rest of her family. When the truth comes out about Will, Katie finds herself isolated except for her roommate Mazzie. As much about friends as family, Breathless is a measured, probing look at one teen's attempts to form friendships without the foundation of family relationships. Pass this novel to fans of authors like K.L. Going and Sara Zarr.

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