FICTION

Breathless

Knopf. Sept. 2020. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781524701963.
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Gr 9 Up–Claude is finishing up her senior year of high school in Ohio and making plans for an epic summer before going off to college. That’s when Claude’s dad drops the floor out from under her: Her mother and father are separating. Instead of her fabulous summer with her best friend, Claude is going to stay with her mother on a remote island off the coast of Georgia with no cell reception. She meets a group of misfit teens who quickly become friends. One of those misfits is Jeremiah. Soon Claude and Miah are exploring the island, new emotions, and each other in a dreamy, responsible, Sarah Dessen-like affair. Angry, whiny Claude is difficult to like at first but believable. Sun-bronzed Miah, despite his troubled past, is almost too perfect, yet readers will find themselves drawn to his wise-beyond-his-years optimism. He helps Claude begin to accept what her family is going through. As the last days of summer pass by, Claude and her mother find ways to accept heartbreak and face their new realities. This bittersweet summer romance is a change of pace for Niven, but it is easy to feel her connection to the story. Discussions about love, sex, family, and the conflicting emotions caused by change are refreshingly honest. Claude is white and some of the islanders are Gullah.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for any YA collection where romance and/or realistic fiction circulates well.

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