Breathing by Cheryl Renée Herbsman. New York: Speak, 2009. 262 pages.
1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Savannah was going to enjoy a nice, boring, relaxing summer vacation, reading books and working at the library; however, she met Jackson, a boy she could not stop thinking about and found out that he felt the same. [Rising Action] Savannah was excited that she was going to spend the whole summer with Jackson when unexpectedly he had to go back home to take care of his brothers and his mothers. When Jackson left, Savannah, who has asthma, started to get asthma attacks more often, thinking it was because Jackson wasn’t there to help her breathe. [Climax] In the end, Jackson came back, decided to go to the community college there and work on painting houses. [Falling Action] Savannah realized that she can breathe on her own and went to a college for high school students for a semester, leaving Jackson at home. [Resolution] She understood that what Jackson and her had was unique and special and will last for a very long time, no matter how far away they are from one another. Theme: The themes in this novel include romance, summer, dreams, love and independency. Tone: This was a very relaxed tone, set in summer on a beach. Savannah and Jackson enjoyed just hanging out and doing nothing when they were together. Style: This was written in first person with Savannah narrating the story, telling the reader all of her thoughts and emotions on the events that occurred. Characterizations: Honestly, I found Savannah spoiled, annoying, and selfish through ¾ of this novel. She always wanted Jackson by her side and to be with her all of the time, not realizing that he needed to be there for his family. Toward the end she realized that she can be independent, so she got better personality wise. Jackson was very dedicated to his family and to Savannah, always being very helpful, determined, and honest with everyone. Readability: This was a very easy book to read and many readers will fly through this novel.
2. My reactions to the book. I wanted to like this book, but in the end, I was annoyed with Savannah more than I care to admit. If she wasn’t so clingy and whinny, it would have been a great novel, but I found that all that really happened was Savannah not getting what she wanted and complain about it. That was the weakness of the novel. A strength was how Savannah conquered those obstacles that kept her from Jackson and in the end got what she wanted overall. I think the information about Savannah’s asthma might be accurate overall, but nothing from this book was based on a true event.
3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art of this novel will definitely attract a female audience. I think the cover portrays the story really well, although the characters never do go sit in a tree. However, the beach is certainly part of the story and I think that a viewer who sees this cover will think it’s a nice romance story in the summertime. As stated before, many young teen girls will be picking this up based on the cover, but if someone gives it to a teenage boy, I think there might be some trouble persuading him to read it.