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Summary: This ain't Kansas! It was the last straw, and now Gramps is sending William to live with his dad in California. A man he hasn't seen since he was four. Now he's a senior in high school! William learns quickly that everything is all business with the elder Mr. Stout: stay off the second floor; no friends in the house; and get a job to pay for anything beyond your three squares. If it wasn't hard enough moving across country to live in the laundry room, being the new guy in high school isn't easy, either. Especially when you show up the star football player and his crew; get recruited by the coach and make the team; and befriend Shasteen, one of the hottest girls in school (and who said football player has claimed as "his"). On one of his first forays out of the house, William encounters "Patches," a young boy looking for help. Patches pops up at the oddest times, then disappears. Patches won't let go of William's thoughts, and even after Shasteen offers to help him find the boy he is at a loss. Just as things seem to be settling into a rhythm, something happens that pushes William in a direction that takes him back to his anger, but answers his questions about Patches, too. William narrates this free verse poetry novel, inspired by his life. This is a young adult novel for mature readers.
Type of Reading: independent reading, anytime reading
Recommended Age: read together: 13 and Up; read yourself: 15 and Up
Interest Level: 14 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: I am not a fan of novels in free verse poetry, but Breath to Breath may have just made me a convert. It is a beautiful, vivid way to tell this story without having to get "graphic" about the most painful details of William's life to this point. The novel tackles the hardest topics, with bullying being the least difficult! Abandonment and child sexual abuse are not subjects we are comfortable with - certainly not for our teens. Breath to Breath shows teens (and adults) the realities of these social ills, but in a way that is eye opening, thought-provoking, and in the end, uplifting.
Pros: You won't put this book down once you start reading. Powerful, vivid images in William's narration will keep readers turning page after page seeking hope and watching it emerge.
Cons: None. That said, Breath to Breath addresses some very real, ugly subjects. There is some graphic language that may be difficult for some readers.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. William exudes a strength, with hope over despair. His is a powerful story that, despite some horrible events, needs to be shared and will be read again and again.
Educational Themes: At the end of the book there is an extensive resource narrative by Dr. Donna A. Gaffney, DNSc, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN. This may be something you read before sharing the book with teens and young adults. The story draws out several themes (not all of them central to William) that invite dialogue and discussion.
Notes: The publisher donated an advance review copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - Young Adult, family, social issues
Date(s) Reviewed: September 2015
Other Reviews: No Critics Reviews or reader feedback found at the time of this review.