Sunday, 9 November 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe - Miranda Kenneally; Review

Book details:
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1795 KB
Print Length: 319 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1402284799
Language: English
Source: Review/Purchase/Gift


Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honour his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more gruelling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

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Continuing my contemporary streak, todays review is on Breathe, Annie, Breathe, by Miranda Kenneally. I’ve heard only praise about her previous books, the Hundred Oaks series of which Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Things I Can’t Forget and Chasing Savannah are a part of. 

Breathe, Annie, Breathe, follows the story of 18 year old Annie, who over the course of the book, recounts her life in flashbacks, to her grief laden past where she lost her boyfriend Kyle, and the present - in which she’s participating in a 26 mile marathon, in memory of him. 

Kyle was the love of her life, and in these flashbacks we get glimpses of the fun, caring and loving relationship they were both a part of. Kyle’s dream, as an avid runner, was to take part in a marathon, specifically the Country Music Marathon in downtown Nashville which he trained for, and Annie (despite hating running) kept him company and encouraged him. Things looked perfect in Annie’s life - until suddenly one day it wasn't - and she was left with a gaping hole where her boyfriend, her best friend, used to reside. Suddenly she finds herself committing to run the race on his behalf, not wanting all his efforts in training for it to be left incomplete. 

Kenneally takes us through Annie’s story, as she starts training with all around nice guy and hunk, Matt - who coaches her through the ins and out of long distance running. As she brings structure, stability and control to her life, Annie starts to feel normal again, enjoying having a purpose to pass the days as she trains during the day, and waitresses the evenings to earn money for college. It’s on these running trails that she bumps into (quite literally) swoon worthy and Backwards Runner Boy, Jeremiah - Matt’s younger brother, who paces runners for Matt. As friendship blossoms, we see Annie open herself up to something more. 

There were several things I enjoyed about this book - Breathe, Annie, Breathe was my first book by Kenneally, and her easy writing allowed me to read this in one sitting. As someone who used to love long distance running and every sport in general, I really really liked the running-themed plot and seeing Annie push through like a trojan. I liked Annie’s character, for a whole host of reasons - from her absolute and utter dedication to completing something on behalf of someone she loves - to the decisions she makes throughout the book. In the flashback to her life with Kyle, there was a particular decision which she made, that cemented her as a well rounded character in my eyes. Despite loving Kyle, and knowing he was the one for her, she also held fast to her own dreams and ambitions - to go to college, to make something of herself, rather than rely on a guy. As her Mum often told her, “Never depend on a guy, Annie. You depend on yourself, understand?”. I saw this as a nice change from usual contemporaries in the way it was encouraged that you be someone yourself first, before someone else’s - even if you truly are in love and meant for each other - and despite the pressure, Annie held her own to put herself first. 

As for the other characters, who couldn’t love both Matt and Jeremiah? Matt (who features in Kenneally’s other books I’m discovering) was the perfect coach and friend - all around good guy basically. His brother Jeremiah, is an adrenaline junkie who needs sports and thrills to feel alive - and Annie can’t stay away from him, he makes her happy and that’s all she’s really looking for. I felt like their relationship had notes of what a real relationship would be - flawed, hesitant, passionate - and the mix of it was perfect for a contemporary reader. 

Another aspect of Kenneally’s story that I enjoyed, was that it wasn’t filled with the judgemental stares and opinions of people who think Annie moved on too fast - I appreciated the fact the story stayed (mostly) away from that - and allowed me to really enjoy the book. I’m looking forward to reading other books by Kenneally next, especially Catching Jordan. 

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