Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review BREATHLESS by Jessica Warman

by Jessica Warman
Published August 18th 2009 by Walker Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 320 pages


When Katie Kitrell is shipped off to boarding school by her distant father and overbearing mother, it doesn’t take her long to become part of the It Crowd. She’s smart, she’s cute, and she’s an Olympic-bound swimmer who has a first class ticket to any Ivy League school of her choice. But what her new friends, roommate, and boyfriend don’t know is that Katie is swimming away from her past, and from her schizophrenic older brother, Will, who won’t let her go. And when he does the unthinkable, it’s all Katie can do to keep her head above water.

When I read the premise of this book it intrigued me. It is not something I would normally pick up, but I thought I would give it a try. Bloomsbury lists it as semi-autobiographical. And I was very interested to see how the story played out where the girl is dealing with her brother's mental illness.

What this novel is: A good read for an ADULT. It reminds us that sometimes teenagers deal with things they shouldn't need to deal with. I enjoyed reading the story. Katie's relationship with her roommate made me laugh out loud multiple times. Her parents infuriated me for not being there for her and I really felt for this character. It is written beautifully and there is some really good stuff in there.

What the novel isn't: a book I would let my teenager read. It definitely contains a lot of things that I don't want my young daughter to be exposed to. I cringed at parts that talks about teenage drug and alcohol abuse as "Normal teenage stuff". I thought this especially strange because Katie's brother's schizophrenia is drug induced. The way it is explained, he turned to drugs because he was bullied, and that killed off brain cells and induced his illness. The juxtaposition of Katie knowing this and then using drugs and alcohol herself made no sense to me. Not to mention the heavy cigarette smoking from a supposedly regional swimming champ.

Many parts were sexually charged (including the use of the term "blow job") and the novel will reiterate society's negative view of virgins. Since I wholly believe in abstinence, this is obviously not something I want to expose my child to (she'll get enough of that without reading novels that glorify teenage sexuality).

So, I was very torn because although there is a deep underlying story of trying to make it through very trying family issues and teenage years, there was just too much that wasn't for me to give it a better rating.


Ratliffs said...

Hmm...Thanks for your honest review. I probably won't be picking this one up, although I am intrigued by the whole swimming aspect. I'm pretty sensitive about drugs, alcohol and sex in my books.

Torri said...

Thanks for the review. The story sounds kinda interesting. I actually know someone with drug induced schizophrenia. But I won't be picking it up. I don't like to support books or anything that thinks any of that stuff is 'normal'or okay.

Aubrey (AKA Stacey) said...

Honestly I was really saddened at the extent of the dug use. At first I brushed it off as something Katie did with her brother to have some sort of bond with him. Then when she continued to smoke and sex became a big issue I was dissapointed.

But it was a good read at the same time. So hard to review a book like that!

SaraJ said...

Those are the hardest to review for sure - the ones that are well written, but have so much stuff in them that is unnecessary or inappropriate. Good job on a tough review.

Jena said...

Thanks for letting us know about the content. That is too bad!

Michelle said...

I saw your review on Good Reads. I agree with so much of what you said. I wanted to like it so much, but it just didn't work.