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.
"Breathe, Annie, Breathe is an emotional, heartfelt, and beautiful story about finding yourself after loss and learning to love. It gave me so many feels. Her best book yet." — Jennifer Armentrout, New York Times bestselling author of Wait for You
Read an excerpt: http://mirandakenneally.com/writing/e...(less)
Five Stars: A genuine, realistic and heartfelt contemporary.
Annie's feet hit the ground. Her heart thuds in her ears and her stomach recoils in revolt. She silently tells herself over and over again to just breathe, Annie, breathe. She pushes herself until she is numb, unable to feel the grief that is so close to the surface. This past fall, Annie lost her boyfriend, the love of her life. Drowning in sorrow and feeling lost, Annie decides to complete Kyle's goal and run in the local marathon this summer. The problem is that Annie hates to run. Luckily for Annie, she meets up with Coach Jordan Woods while training on the school track. Jordan in her own quiet way, hooks Annie up with her good friend Matt Brown who trains people for marathons. Through running, Annie finds a way to heal and she makes an unexpected friend. Can Annie let go of the past and run toward a brighter future?
What I Liked:
- I have been a big fan of Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks Series since I first picked it up in 2013. While I loved all four of the previous books, I think Breathe, Annie Breathe is by far the best book in the series. Ms. Kenneally's writing has grown and matured as well as her characters. This is a book with so much depth and heart. It made me laugh and cry. I loved it!
- Annie Winters is also my favorite heroine to date. I was immediately drawn to her. For the last few months, she has been trying to find a way to heal and move forward as she struggles with her grief and guilt over losing her boyfriend of almost four years. Instead of curling up and wallowing in self pity, Annie endeavors to train to compete in the marathon her boyfriend was to run. Running isn't easy for Annie and she struggles every step of the way, but she never gives up. She pushes forward and during her training she finally begins to open up. She makes new friends, rediscovers old ones, and she begins to explore the possibility of a new romantic relationship. I loved how genuine Annie was, and I loved cheering for her every step of the way. She is the type of girl you can't help but like. That is what I love so much about Kenneally's books, her realistic and likable characters.
- Speaking of characters, this book has a new romantic interest: Jeremiah Brown. Jer is far different from any of the other boys in Miranda's books. He is a bit rough around the edges as he lives to compete in any kind of extreme sports. Underneath his tough guy exterior, he is kind hearted and compassionate. I loved the relationship he had with all of his family. He and his brother, Matt, have the type of relationship where they are always competing against one another and their banter is hilarious. I absolutely adored his relationship with his grandpa as well. I especially loved how he took the time to be a true friend to Annie and that he was willing to give her space and time. He isn't without his flaws and he makes some big mistakes early on, but despite his flaws, he is easy to love.
- Along with Jeremiah and Annie, you have a strong cast of secondary characters. Many are familiar to readers as they have appeared in the other Hundred Oaks books. Matt, Jordan, Henry, Kate, Savannah and Jack make appearances. I love catching up with old friends from the other books.
- The romance is breathtakingly perfect. Annie is not ready for love after suffering such a heartbreaking loss. I love that the romance starts out as an attraction and then takes several steps back as the couple establishes a solid friendship. There are plenty of stumbles down the path, but then it finally gets to that sweet spot and everything is just perfect. I had a big goofy smile on my face. This is YA romance done right!
- As with any Kenneally book, you can expect her to tackle some tough teen topics. This time around we are walked through the pain of loss and the accompanying guilt over losing a loved one. It is real and raw and heartfelt. When we first meet Annie, she is nearing the end of high school, as the book progresses she heads to college and she tackles all the adjustments of stepping into adulthood. During the entire book, Annie's training for the marathon. Her training is excruciating. I could tell Kenneally was writing from first hand experience as it was so realistic. Along with Annie's journey, the reader is introduced to the addiction some people have to extreme sports. It was interesting and eye opening to read about this topic. All in all, I loved the themes introduced in this one.
- As with any of the books in this series, this is a companion novel. You can read any book at any time in the series without having read the others. However as I mentioned, many of the previous characters pop up in this one and it is always fun to reconnect with old friends. If you are a fan of this series, I am certain you will love this latest installment, and if you haven't read one of Kenneally's books, do yourself a favor and get this one. It is outstanding.
And The Not So Much:
- I was a tiny bit disappointed in the ending. The book builds and builds toward the big marathon, and then it cuts off. Yes, it ends on a hopeful high note, but I couldn't help but feel a little cheated, I wanted the complete journey.
- This is the type of book that I didn't want to end. I wanted more and more of this story.
Breathe, Annie Breathe is one of the best YA contemporaries I have read to date. This is an emotional, heartfelt journey of transformation and new beginnings. I loved the characters, the story and the romance. Whether you are an old fan or a newbie to Kenneally's work, you must read this book. I cannot recommend this one enough.
"And then he was gone, and snow covered the leaves, and the sun melted the snow, and all my regrets aside, I couldn't stand that all that training was for nothing."
"We always felt at home with each other, like we didn't need anything else."
"A boy should fit into your life--not become it. High school is when you start to define yourself. Don't define yourself as the girl who has a boyfriend and nothing else."
"Anything can happen. Anything. Anytime, to anyone. We have to live now. Now, now, now."
I purchased a copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.