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Release Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
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.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Another winner from Miranda Kenneally. I love how each of the Hundred Oaks books are similar yet so different. They all feature girls from the same town, all have some connection to sports, and all fall in love with awesome guys. At the same time, there's so much variety in these stories. Some girls are from wealthy families, some poor. Some love sports, some just end up being involved. Some are shy, some outgoing. The differences go on. It's the perfect balance of comfortable, familiar feeling combined with new and exciting.
Unlike most of the other Hundred Oaks girls, Annie is not athletic. She's running not because she loves it or is good at it, but because she's set a personal goal. Training for a marathon is more of an ordeal than an opportunity. still, the 6 months she spends preparing for the marathon changes her life.
Annie is mourning the loss of her long-time boyfriend. What's worse, she blames herself for his death. This is a trope that I've seen in other books and I really hate it. Especially in cases like this where it clearly wasn't her fault that he died. Not in the least. On the other hand, people (especially grieving people) are irrational, so the idea of blaming yourself for someone's death, however illogical, is not unrealistic. Still, it is the only part of this book that really bothered me. Especially because Kyle did some pretty spiteful and immature things in their last days that made me think she was better off without him.
Onto happier things...Annie is a lovely character. She's a bit hard to define. I think it's because she spent so many years defining herself solely as Kyle's girlfriend. This marathon also allows Annie to find herself. Annie is definitely persistent and stubborn. Marathon training requires that. But also her insistence on going to college to escape her family's poverty. I think she needs college. And actually - as much as I love Jeremiah - I think she needs to spend a few years on her own, so she can become a person easily defined on her own terms.
Jeremiah is a great guy. He's funny, charming, a little macho but not too macho, and sweet. This is a guy who takes a girl to his grandfather's old-folks home for a date. Plus, he and Annie ooze physical chemistry. The only problem is his love for extremes. He's an adrenaline junkie. The more risks, the better. And for a girl whose last boyfriend died, this is an understandable problem. The question is whether Jeremiah can moderate his lifestyle without giving up too much of himself and whether Annie can relax enough to allow Jeremiah to be himself. I like that both characters have to make some concessions.
I always love the tie-ins to other Hundred Oaks characters. Everyone gets a reference. Matt from Things I Can't Forget has the biggest role to play as Annie's running coach. I also love that Jordan is the football coach and Savannah is in Annie's group of friends. Annie's family - her mom and brother - are also important players in this story, as the family in Miranda's books always are. Annie has a strained relationship with her mom lately, but you can tell that their family is strong and loving. I particularly liked Liza, one of Annie's running partners. She's in her early 30s and a lawyer - just like me! I loved that Liza was portrayed as a cool, good-influence friend rather than a mom-like old person.
Breathe, Annie, Breathe continues Miranda's streak of wonderful novels. You always know what you're going to get in a Hundred Oaks book, but I also always manage to be a little bit surprised. This is a perfect feel-good summer book and also a perfect book for runners.
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