When she is getting some community service hours by staffing the table at the boy's swim meet, taking Becca's shift when she has a conflict, she gets to see the new swim team member, Braden, a guy her sister warned her is bad news. And he's in his Speedo without a ride, as the other team members took his clothes and left him behind in a hazing ritual. He convinces Hadley to give him a ride, and the more they get to talking, the more they find to like.
While the beginning was quite a romance ride, things begin taking a turn later in the book, and Hadley has to decide who she wants to be and who she wants to date.
What I loved: While the first part of the book is heavily romance, the later half of the book is much more, with many difficult themes. Hadley is definitely coming-of-age as she tries to decide who she will be and what that will entail. The book felt very atmospheric, and the writing pulls the reader into Hadley's life seamlessly. The romance was every bit as intense as it felt for Hadley, and we also get swept away in the emotions of it all - and then in the emotions as everything changes. This book deals with some difficult themes of cancer, athlete injury, addiction, and unhealthy relationships. It felt raw, genuine, and compelling throughout.
What left me wanting more: As a small point, I would have liked to see more of the resources for teens who may find themselves in similar situations. Importantly, we do eventually get the tell parents part, but I think there are also other resources needed for both teens. I also wasn't sure about the way the book ended romantically, particularly after such a emotional read that I would have liked to see a more introspection and independent ending, but that may just have been me.
Final verdict: Raw, genuine, and compelling, COMING UP FOR AIR is a sweeping YA contemporary coming-of-age novel that I would highly recommend. Recommend for fans of A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES, BREATHLESS, and HEROINE.