Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks)

First Lines: As a kid, I had the worst mile time ever.  Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test.  I’d huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground.

Miranda Kenneally is no stranger to my bookshelf.  I adore her stories because not only are they romances, but they touch on so much more than that.  This was on my to-read shelf for the longest time until I finally saw it at the library and just grabbed it.  (I really have to start putting things on hold…)

Annie hates running; she always has.  But she can’t outrun the guilt she feels.  If she hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend Kyle, he might still be alive.  So in his memory, she trains for the marathon he wanted to race in.  But training is harder than Annie ever believed, not just physically (which is excruciating) but also mentally and emotionally.  With every mile, Annie is cheered on by Jeremiah, her trainer’s brother.  And with ever mile, Annie’s confusion grows.  For Annie, running into a new relationship may be harder than running a marathon.

I’ve said this once, and I will keep saying it over and over again until another author decides to do something similar: I think it’s fantastic that Kenneally is writing a series of sports novels for girls. There are so many sports books out there for boys, but the list of those written for girls is much shorter. The fact that this series also covers a number of difficult topics (class, identity, religion, etc.) makes it that much better.

While I will freely admit this was not one of my favorites from this series, I still thought it was really good. Annie was (mostly) a realistic character struggling to learn what to do with her life when every other thought focuses on how her ex-boyfriend that died would never get to do the things she’s doing. It colored a lot of her interactions. There are a few things she does that seem a bit off (as I saw a few other reviews mentioning), but one poor moment like that wasn’t going to ruin the book for me. Even though it was a very weird scene that did seem contrived to create drama and wasn’t exactly realistic in any other way.

The romance in this also wasn’t what I remembered from the other books. The romance here was more like an after-thought, but I was ok with that. The story was more about Annie starting to overcome her grief and start living her life again. That was the important thing, and I think it worked for this story. Too much emphasis on romance would’ve been weird, given her situation.

It was also really great to see some of those old characters come back into this story (Jordan, Kate, etc.). There’s been a lot of time that’s passed since the first couple of books in this series and these kids are adults now, with adult jobs and lives. It’s kind of strange because we never see that in most series, but I really like it.

While this wasn’t my favorite book in this series, I still thought it was well on par with the other books in this series and definitely not a bad read.

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