June 18, 2018

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The Place Between Breaths by An Na | SLJ Review

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redstarNA, An. The Place Between Breaths. 192p. S. & S./Atheneum. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481422253.

Gr 9 Up –Grace King is a resilient and talented high school senior, who has had to raise herself since her mother, who has schizophrenia, left the family when Grace was five. Grace’s father, a doctor turned researcher and recruiter, has obsessively devoted his life to finding his wife and advancing the treatment of the disease. More than a decade later, he is sure that he has lured the best geneticists in the field to work at a lab outside of Chicago and that they are about to make a significant breakthrough. Grace, who has won a coveted internship at the lab, has long since given up on romantic notions of her mother’s return or the belief in a miracle cure. She is a hard-core realist and a scientist through and through, until she starts to exhibit many of the symptoms that took her mother away from her and is forced to reexamine everything she thought she knew about faith and religion, science, and, most of all, hope. Steeped in lyricism and metaphor, Na’s devastating story explores the workings of the human mind, the melancholy sweetness of memory, and the power of dreams. The narrative is revealed in nonlinear seasonal chapters told in different voices, which reinforce the protagonist’s sense of dislocation and disorientation. VERDICT A slim but demanding and haunting novel for readers of Beth Kephart’s One Stolen Thing or John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

Luann Toth About Luann Toth

Luann Toth (ltoth@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor of SLJ Reviews. A public librarian by training, she has been reviewing books for a quarter of a century and continues to be fascinated by the constantly evolving, ever-expanding world of publishing.

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