Coming Up for Air

Delacorte. Dec. 2020. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593127087.
Gr 9 Up–A few years ago, Hadley’s mother had cancer, and now it has come back. Considering everything her family is going through, she doesn’t feel like she has time for a relationship. But there is something about Braden that she cannot resist. When a swimming injury threatens Braden’s college future, Hadley finds herself desperately trying to balance her family responsibilities with the stress of a sick parent and a boyfriend who seems to be spiraling out of control. The cover art and interior illustrations by artist Pedro Tapa are lovely, and they add a sense of beauty to heartbreaking moments. Chapters are divided into after, before, and during, guiding readers through a non-chronological plot; however, the heavy foreshadowing helps readers follow along. Their relationship banter is so well done that Hadley’s privilege and Braden’s jock stereotype are forgivable. Her close friends Tyler and Becca are genuine, her siblings Remy (very fleshed out) and Judd (not as much) are inconsistent, but the family dynamics are positive and built into the narrative well. Hadley’s use of photography and the music that both Tyler and Becca love adds a needed sense of creativity to her character and the story. Becca, who is of Greek and Mexican descent, is the only character whose ethnicity is described; both Hadley and Braden have blond hair.
VERDICT A sweet story about family, love, and loss. A good purchase for libraries where Jennifer Niven or Nina LaCour are popular.

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