Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Anglais) Relié – 25 juillet 2014
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This series is one of my favorites. I can't wait to read more, the next book in the series can't come out fast enough.
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I just wish she would leave out some of the sexual content and explicit language that I do not appreciate in young adult books. This is the 3rd book in the Hundred Oaks Series that I have read. I picked up this book knowing that there would be some content in it. But there was a lot of content and that left me debating whether or not the entire experience is actually worth it. One minute I think I'm done with her books but recognize that I will likely waffle when the next book comes out and read it anyway.
So is this for you? Depends on what you like in your young adult books. If you don't mind language and sexual content then you will likely enjoy this. If it bothers you then this one is not for you.
Rating: 3.5 Stars - Good Book
Content: explicit language including the F word. Lots of sexual content... innuendo, roaming hands, and sex. I would classify this as new adult, NOT young adult but I'm a very conservative reader.
Source: Review copy via Netgalley
The synopsis describes the book well, so I'm going to skip right to my review.
What I LOVED:
I was completely drawn into Annie's story. We find out about Kyle's death early in the book, but the history between Annie and Kyle and the story of what actually happened to him is revealed slowly throughout the book. Annie's heartbreak over Kyle was palpable - and it made this book really resonate with me. She was trying so hard to honor him by running the marathon, even though the training was torture for her. Then, the added confusion over her feelings for Jeremiah just compounded her pain. Annie's story was messy - certainly not always pretty - which is just the way it should be!
Last year, my husband ran his first marathon and I can attest to the fact that the training is grueling! Kenneally did a fantastic job of portraying Annie's pain throughout the marathon training process. While Annie's physical issues were different than my husband's were, I know firsthand (well, okay, secondhand) that this type of training is ridiculously intense and incredibly hard on your body. Since I, like Annie, am NOT a runner, I could totally imagine what it was like for her - how torturous the process would be and how she would totally WANT to quit, even while wanting desperately to complete the race for Kyle.
This book explored not just the romance between Jeremiah and Annie (which I loved), but also her relationships with her friends and family. How did Annie's relationship with Kyle affect her friendships? How did his death affect her relationship with her family - and his family? These questions and more were explored in a realistic way. This book wasn't only about the romance between the two main characters!
This book wove in A LOT of characters from the previous books, so we got to see how their lives are progressing. Matt, Jake, Savannah, Vanessa, Rory, Jordan, Sam - they're all here! And, of course, Jeremiah is Matt's brother, who we got a glimpse of in Stealing Parker. I love seeing these old characters tied into each new story!
I don't want to go into what Jeremiah's issues actually were, but this was the one area where I was a bit unsure. First I thought maybe everybody was making a big deal out of nothing, but then as the book went on, I could kind of see where they were coming from a bit more. I still thought everyone was being a bit overprotective of him (but that was redeemed somewhat in the end). My main problem is that there was this little niggling worry at the back of my mind that Jeremiah's issues might not really be permanently solved and they might cause Annie pain at some point in the future. But that's realism, not fiction - I just needed to let it go!
Breathe, Annie, Breathe is an emotionally compelling examination of love and loss that will make you want to embrace the things that make life worth living! I give it 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***
Annie is perhaps one of the easiest main characters to get behind ever. Despite being a terrible runner, she is training for a marathon to run on behalf of her ex-boyfriend. Her ex unfortunately has passed away and she blames herself. This guilt haunts her so she has to do something for him and since he was training to run this very marathon when he passed, it's only right for her to do this in his honor. It's hard not to respect her, right? This novel is her journey to self-acceptance and realizing that it's okay to grieve, but first love is not your only love and you can find love again.
The love interest, Jeremiah, is someone who may or may not be familiar to readers, if you catch my drift. I happened to love him. A supreme adrenaline junkie, he is constantly putting himself in harms way to get his blood pumping faster. He craves this feeling above all else. A reformed "man-whore" he is now doing everything in his power to be on good terms with his family and keep his job as the pacer for his older brother, Matt, and his new marathon training camp.
There, he meets Annie and both of their worlds are completely turned upside down. While their romance sparks in a really unique manner, you can't help but see that Annie is desperate for romantic attention that she doesn't think he deserves and Jere is trying to find a girl who understands him that he can really, truly be with. Their journey to love is a special one and it is so well done I can't help but applaud Kenneally for how real it seems. There are ups and downs, many mistakes, an abundance of cuteness, and struggles with coming to terms with one's self worth while the other overcomes an adrenaline addiction. And, in the end, there's perhaps the sweetest love imaginable--both romantically and for running. Man, I need myself a Jeremiah. On a side note, I absolutely adore his name!
The ending, in my opinion, was perfect for this novel. However, it came way too soon. Not because there are pacing issues, but because I connected so much with this story that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Annie and Jeremiah. I want to follow their journey specifically. While I know there will be more books in this series, I want more books about them. This just emphasizes how well characterized they are.
This book will give any reader a love of running and a huge adoration for this cast of characters. It will only reaffirm previous loves in the series, too. Though this book can be read as a stand-alone, I recommend reading the previous novels so you can smile at the little things and appreciate the novel even more as a whole. There's literally nothing negative I can say about this one. Kenneally has stolen my heart and took off running with it.
Warning: There is sexual instances, cussing, and under-age drinking in this novel.
Annie is a tough young lady. That is what struck me the most about her. She had this amazing sweet sweet boyfriend for most of highschool, and he died. And she is carrying around guilt for that. I just felt awful for her. Before he lost his life way too soon, he was training for a marathon. So in his honor, Annie decides that she is going to train and run the marathon in his honor. Just reading about it made me tear up. I loved that this is how she chose to honor him. And I loved how the whole town got behind her. That takes strength and dedication. She signed up for a training coach.
I loved how the book progressed through her weekly runs with her running group and coach. It was nice to be able to meet some of the other runners in her group and get to know them a little as well. Liza was a nice surprise. I'm glad that the love interest was not her training coach, but rather his younger brother- little adrenaline junkie that he is. Their friendship was interesting to say the least. I loved watching the two of them interact. I completely see what all the hype is with Miranda's books. She is just a talented author. She writes characters that you just want to grab lunch with, be friends with and hug. I want to hug all of the characters. Annie comes such a long way from page one to the end of the book. Watching her life progress is such a treat. I also really appreciated the fact that we got to see her go from high school to college.
I can so see why this series is a must read for young adult. It is everything that I want my young adult books to be. Fun, moving, detailed and developed. The main characters shine just as must as the secondary characters. You will love Annie and Jere. If you are like me, and you are one of the few people left on this earth that have not discovered the magic of Hundred Oaks, don't wait any longer! Grab Breathe Annie Breathe and fall in love. She even made me want to run... and that is no easy feat. I am going back to read the rest of the books now!
*Disclaimer- I got a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated for my thoughts.
First, Kyle's death. Annie and Kyle had been together since the beginning of high school and they pretty much thought they would be together forever, Annie seeing them getting married after she finished college and Kyle picturing them getting married a bit sooner. When Kyle dies about halfway through senior year Annie feels lost. So much of her life revolved around Kyle that she doesn't know what to do with herself. This is such a tricky topic to handle, death is always difficult, but Annie is only 18-years-old and she clearly has a whole life, hopefully filled with more love, ahead of her. Much of the story revolves around Kyle, since Annie is running the marathon on his behalf, but there's also these heartbreaking flashbacks thrown in. How Annie and Kyle met, the first time they slept together, going to the drive-in movies together. For such a difficult subject Miranda Kenneally really makes you feel Kyle's loss and did a perfect job balancing Annie wanting to remember Kyle and be true to him and also wanting to keep moving forward in her life.
The whole training for a marathon part of the story made me so nervous. I used to be a big runner, half marathons, never a full one, and after not loving how Miranda Kenneally portrayed horse racing in Racing Savannah (I rode horses for many years and am a big racing fan), I really didn't want her to screw up the whole running thing. And I'm happy to say that she didn't! At the end of many of the chapters (maybe even all of them?) there's Annie's weekly long-run training plan and her fun little notes. There's also talk of her shorter runs and cross training during the week. Annie's coach is Matt from Things I Can't Forget and it was great to get to spend time with Matt and see what he's up to (and Kate!). There were also the chaffing, stomach, and muscle issues that I think all current or former runners can relate to.
Jeremiah is Matt's younger brother and he and Annie meet while Jeremiah is working for Matt. Jere, who is briefly in Things I Can't Forget, has grown up to be a kind of a big daredevil. He does things like run races backwards, skydive, and competes in lots of extreme sports (like I could see him doing American Ninja Warrior). When Annie and Jere meet out on the trails there's an immediate attraction, Annie likes that a guy is looking at her again, but she also feels like she's betraying Kyle. Annie and Jere get to know each other more, even though Matt tells Jere to stay away, and the more Annie gets to know Jere the more she likes him, but she's still very much figuring out if she's really able to love someone again. The way that Miranda Kenneally made Annie scared because of Kyle's death, but also because of Jere's daredevil lifestyle was so smart. A big part of me wanted to shake Annie and tell her just to be with Jeremiah, he was such a great guy, but she already lost one guy she loves to a terrible accident and it made perfect sense that she would be nervous about being with someone who does such dangerous things.
A lot of us talk about having more realistic college stories and this one, which takes place over the end of Annie's senior year of high school, the summer before she goes away to college, and the first couple months of her freshman year at college. In some ways Annie is different because going away to college is really saying goodbye to Kyle because she's moving on physically, but the story also deals with things that everyone experiences when they start college. Saying goodbye to friends, family, and jobs in your hometown, finding and handling roommates, and what it's like to live on your own for the first time. In some ways the story reminded me of Roomies because it handles much of that some period in someone's life.
Finally, the sex. If you're looking for sex-positive YA look no further than this book (or really all of Miranda Kenneally's books). Annie and Kyle were together for many years, they were having sex. Not just as horny high school students either (which is fine), but as two people who really cared about each other. Once Kyle passes away Annie misses so much about Kyle, including the emotional and physical intimacy they had (and not just sex, she talks a lot about missing his back scratches). Annie and Jere hook up pretty early in the story and it was great to see Annie, a normal teenager girl, having a sex drive and needing that moment. She feels guilty about it after, because of Kyle and because she doesn't think she's being a "good" girl and her exploration of her feelings was honest and smart. As the story went on Annie wants to kiss, have sex, and be intimate with someone and she owned that. Her and her friends also talked about sex in a way that was age appropriate and really honest.
Bottom Line: I feel head over heels for Annie, Jeremiah, and this book. Everything about it, from the way the death of Annie's boyfriend is handled, to Annie training for the marathon, to what it's like to go away to college, to sex, to love was absolutely pitch perfect. I highly recommend the entire Hundred Oaks series, but even if you've never read any of them do yourself a favor and pick up Breathe, Annie, Breathe because it is absolutely wonderful.