Hold Me Like a Breath: Once Upon a Crime Family

400p. Bloomsbury. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780802737823. LC 2014019262.
Gr 8 Up—Seventeen-year-old Penny Landlow was born into the "family business"; her dad oversees a vast empire of illegal organ donation. Patients pay heartily for this life-saving service. Penny lives on a lavish estate that sports top-notch security and hired staff. She has limited interaction with the outside world, which is compounded by her disease; Penny suffers from a rare condition called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Her body destroys its own platelets for no known reason, and the only treatment is healthy blood infusions every few weeks. Her life revolves around her blood tests and infusions. Penny's greatest desire is to go away to college and live like a normal teen, but her doting parents will never allow this. Carter, her older brother, is home from college, along with his trusted bodyguard, Garrett Ward. Garrett's dad is head of security for the business and his three brothers are employees as well. It's assumed that the Ward family will take over the organ business once Penny's father retires. When the Wards are not named as heirs to her father's empire, the action boils over. Her brother, mother, and father are brutally murdered, and Penny is forced into a heart-pounding, adrenaline-fueled race to discover the true murderers and survive the treacherous New York landscape on her own. Penny comes to recognize her limitations and have faith in her ability to make decisions, learning from her mistakes. The plot is contrived in spots, such as when Penny just happens to run into and fall in love with the son of one of the rival organ empires. Loaded with twists and suspense, this is the first in a series, and teens will anxiously await the next book.
VERDICT A crime narrative that satisfies a craving for suspenseful romance, entertaining adventure, and edge-of-your-seat survival drama.

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