Miranda Kenneally has completely outdone herself. I’ve enjoyed all of her books. Loved them, in fact. They’re feelsy and shippy and funny and real and sex-positive and basically everything I want. Breathe, Annie, Breathe strikes that perfect balance between fluffiness and delving into powerful issues. When I finished Breathe, Annie, Breathe, I was pretty close to happy crying, because the book is so moving and the ending was just perfect. If you’re a Miranda Kenneally fan, you know what you’re in for and you will not be disappointed.
Something you should know about me: I loathe running. I one hundred percent do not understand why people put themselves through this pain. Breathe, Annie, Breathe centers on running and Kenneally puts the same amount of detail in that she always does. I learned all about the training process to run a marathon and basically this reinforced my desire to never go running ever. Despite all of that, I was fascinated and I cared about Annie’s attempt to run the marathon. I was never bored by the details and I love how much Kenneally focuses on Annie’s struggle. Running the marathon is not going to be easy, even with months of preparation. I never knew how many health problems were inherent in running these distances. Seriously, why do people do this?
The reason Annie’s doing this, since she’s not a runner by nature either, is to complete a marathon in honor of her boyfriend who died. Annie and Kyle were really in love, even during the brief time they were broken up. They’d gotten back together just before his death and she blames herself, since he was over at her house the night it happened. As is the case with many who lose someone, Annie feels guilty and punishes herself. Running the marathon is both tribute and punishment.
In Kenneally fashion, there’s an adorable romance obviously. However, the evolution of the romance is really different than in any of her previous novels. Annie’s been in love before for one thing and isn’t looking for any sort of romance. She feels really conflicted from the moment she meets Jeremiah, because she’s really attracted to him but doesn’t think she should be. Wanting someone else feels disloyal to Kyle’s memory. What’s so interesting is that Jeremiah and Annie develop the physical side of their relationship before the emotional initially. The path they take to romance is a very unique one and I love every bit of it.
Though not as much time is spent on the secondary characters, I marvel again at how good Kenneally is at building out a cast and their interpersonal relationships. Annie’s progress in her relationships with her mother and her former friend Kelsey is touching. She learns a lot about herself over the course of these many months and finally stops shutting people out. Annie really opens up and it’s wonderful getting to see her realize that, though Kyle is gone, she has her life still to live.
Also, for Kenneally fans, this book is a treat. There are SO MANY CAMEOS. Pretty much everybody from Racing Savannah is here, like the aforementioned Kelsey. Seriously, all of them. Matt from Things I Can’t Forget is Annie’s running coach, and Kate makes a brief appearance as well. Jordan and Sam from Catching Jordan also make an appearance. Will Whitfield is missing, but otherwise the gang is all here and it’s marvelous.
The Final Verdict:
Breathe, Annie, Breathe is my new favorite Kenneally book. For contemporary YA fans who haven’t read Kenneally yet, what are you doing? She has both the fluffy and the feels-crushing, depending on what you’re into. Also, if you’re a reader who wants ships that make you squee and flail (and that will actually have much kissing and sex), KENNEALLY. I’m telling you. Trust me. Now may I have the next one, please?