Coming Up for Air
Ever since her mom's cancer scare, Hadley hasn't been one for taking risks. And after seeing her sister go through one too many heartbreaks, she definitely has no interest in dating. Hadley just wants to keep her head down and enjoy the rest of high school with her friends, focusing on her photography and getting into the art school of her dreams.
Then enters Braden, star of the swim team and precisely the kind of person Hadley avoids, all bravado and charm and impulsivity. From their first moment together, they are perfect sparring partners, equally matched. And it's intoxicating. Braden sees her, really sees her, and Hadley decides it might be time to break all her rules.
Braden shows Hadley how to live again, and soon Hadley is happier than she'll ever admit out loud. But that's before her family is faced with devastating news, and Braden starts hiding a growing, dark secret. As it threatens to shatter everything they've built, Hadley must confront her own actions and determine if she has the strength to walk away.
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.