I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #5
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 15th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Book Expo America
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 honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.
But the training is even more grueling 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.
Miranda Kenneally’s books have been recommended to me time and time again by the lovely Christina, so while it may seem weird to you that I would read the 5th book in a series first, I promise it’s not actually that strange. Though Hundred Oaks is a series, they are more companion novels than true sequels to each other. The fact of the matter is, I ended up in line for this book at BEA, met Miranda, and thought, “Why not read it?” It felt like the right thing to do, having an ARC, and I was in the mood anyway to have a serious contemporary romance binge. And Christina was right yet again – this is my kind of contemporary romance.
Breathe, Annie, Breathe follows the story of Annie, who is training for a marathon in honor of her runner boyfriend who unfortunately died in a car crash. Now, I know what you might be thinking – dead boyfriend? Isn’t that a little grief-heavy for you, Debby? And you may be right, there. This probably won’t be my favorite Kenneally book in the long run because of the grief element, but I was immediately impressed by the way the author handles the subject matter. It doesn’t get depressing and woe-is-me-I’ll-never-love-again. It’s a really realistic view into how someone would recover from losing their significant other – especially at such a young age – and considering the circumstances around the loss. Survivor’s guilt is a pretty big theme, but very delicately handled. I didn’t find it hard at all to connect to Annie and understand what she was going through. In fact, I was quite absorbed by her story (and ended up reading all of it in one day).
So though the grief part was nicely handled and I think showed a beautiful progression of character growth, let’s face it: I was mostly in this for the romance. And it blew me away. First off, Jeremiah is freaking hot. He made me smile constantly. And he and Annie have definite chemistry going on between them. They give into it and hook up in the middle of a training run in a scene that left me fanning myself. Kenneally clearly knows how to write romance. The scenes fade to black VERY late in the game. But it was nice as well because she clearly makes this distinction between love and lust. She’s also pro-teenage sexuality. There’s no slut shaming or judgment or whatever. Annie has trouble letting go of Kyle, understandably, so in the end this book has a really beautiful message of drawing boundaries and waiting until you’re ready. I just LOVED it. Seeing the relationship between Annie and Jeremiah develop was just beautiful.
Meanwhile, I love how this book pretty much straddles young adult and new adult. At the beginning of the book, Annie is finishing up high school, but at the end, she’s started college. It was really wonderful and unique to see that transition in one book – and how that move was portrayed was brilliant and realistic. I loved the college setting and the process of getting ready to move into dorms, sorting out roommates and house rules and all that kind of stuff. I really want to read more books with college settings.
While Annie and Jeremiah start off with this fiery passion between them, they quickly revert to being good friends. They grow closer and closer together until everyone just kind of knows what’s going to happen. I mean, Jeremiah is just the sweetest guy for her, and he’s always there to support her, but he’s super patient as well. Can you say SWOOOOOOOOOOON? And that kind of relationship really reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. I definitely think fans of that would love this as well. (AKA Everyone.)
The transition to adulthood was also beautifully depicted in how Annie develops in her relationships with her friends – particularly with Kelsey. Though it may have been a bit too much girl drama at the beginning, I loved how at the end they just kind of got over it. They realized their drama was stupid high school drama, and at the end of the day, they just really wanted to be friends again. Also, I loved the side ship of Kelsey and Colton. They were so adorable.