Coming Up for Air

Listening Library. Dec. 2021. 907p. $63. ISBN 9780593510889.
Gr 8 Up–This story of romance and addiction takes listeners into the mind of high school junior Hadley Butler. Hadley starts her junior year of high school determined to be single and focused on her goal of curating the perfect photography portfolio for the college of her dreams. She swears off romance until a chance meeting with Braden Roberts, the new bad boy swim star of their high school. Hadley can’t ignore the feelings she has, and they develop what seems to be an idyllic high school romance, both equally infatuated with one another. They continue in this blissful romance until Hadley’s mom’s cancer comes out of remission, and Braden, while trying to earn a swim scholarship, buckles under the pressure of competition and develops a dependency on painkillers after a swimming injury. Hadley must choose between wrecking her relationship or putting everything she has worked so hard for on the line. Phoebe Strole’s narration really cuts to the core of Hadley’s inner thoughts, animating her emotions and dramatizing the conflict she feels. Listeners will sympathize with Hadley’s inner struggle; the tribulations of teenage romance coupled with family issues and self-inflicted pressure make the characters more relatable. Hadley and Braden’s romance is both authentic and sympathetic, and highlights a conflict that many teens today may be able to see their own struggles in.
VERDICT A quality addition to any YA romance audio collection.

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