Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather | SLJ Review

Gr 9 Up –The tale of a teen struggling to define her own boundaries.

redstarMATHER, Janice Lynn. Learning To Breathe. 336p. S. & S. Jun. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534406018.

Gr 9 Up –The tale of a teen struggling to define her own boundaries. All of her life Indira has been compared to her mother Shariece, a drug addict who had multiple sexual partners. The people in Indy’s small village in the Bahamas have always thought she would follow in her mother’s footsteps and gave her the nickname Doubles. The fierce love of her Grammy stabilizes a life littered with her mother’s poor choices. Her grandmother sees trouble ahead and tries to protect Indy by sending her to Nassau to live with her uncle’s family. Before she leaves, Indy receives a bag and book from her grandmother with instructions to not open the present before it’s time. She tries to seize this opportunity to create a new identity for herself but is hindered by a boy from home, and the unwanted attention of a male relative who reminds her of her mother’s past. A chance meeting at a yoga retreat points Indira in a new direction. This is a well-written, thought-provoking book that tackles difficult topics such as unwanted pregnancy, familial relationships, and rape, with nuance. The language and depiction of the practice of yoga is lyrical and beautiful. Readers will agonize with Indira as she struggles to make the best decision for herself and her child. VERDICT A stirring debut for all YA collections.–Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH

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

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