After recently taking swim lessons (as an adult!), I was intrigued by the description of this book. I jumped at the opportunity to read an early copy, and it was the BEST book I've read in ages! Scroll down for my complete review.
Breath Like Water
by Anna Jarzab
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Description from Publisher:
Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews. As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.
About the Author:
Anna Jarzab is the author of All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, Tandem, Tether, Red Dirt, and Breath Like Water. She lives in New York City and works in children's book publishing. Visit her online at www.annajarzab.com and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @ajarzab.
Anyone who's ever dealt with an overbearing, in-your-face coach ... anyone who's ever dealt with disappointment ... anyone who's ever dealt with mental illness ... and/or anyone who's ever wanted a goal so badly every fiber of their being ached for it ... should read this book!
Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab was simply the best book I've read in ages. The writing was terrific and easy to read. The characters were well developed. The plot was captivating. The setting was fascinating. And I was intrigued from page one.
Often times in books targeted at the young adult audience, the parents are absent from the story or neglectful in some regard (in order to let the teenager solve his/her own problems, which is a necessary story device). However, in Breath Like Water, the main character's parents were present, supportive, and realistic. And the main character, Susannah, was still able to solve her own problems. I think this is true in real life more often than we acknowledge. Part of good parenting is allowing your children to make their own decisions, and part of being a teenager is making choices regardless of what your parents may recommend.
"It's my responsibility to take care of you, and to teach you how to take care of yourself. I take it seriously."
Another huge adult influence in the lives of teens is a coach. If a teen is blessed with a great one, the benefits are limitless. If a teen is cursed with a bad one, the damage is limitless, and the belittling can cause scars that carry into other aspects of their lives and far into adulthood. Breath Like Water explores the two different types of coaches. Many times, parents are never fully aware of the harmful things coaches say to their kids. Books such as Breath Like Water will help many young adults realize it's not just them being verbally abused and bullied by their coaches. This happens to a lot of people. They're not alone, and they can rise above it.
"Dave has been my coach for nearly ten years. He knows exactly what knives cut the deepest, and he keeps them nice and sharp at all times."
My only criticism of this story: I wanted Susannah to be more inquisitive around Harry sooner. I wanted her to care enough about him to ask him questions and probe into his life. This aspect pulled me from the story, aware that the author was making me wait for the information.
Nonetheless, I loved this book so much! Jarzab's storytelling was captivating, and her writing was inspiring. She made me feel emotions deeply; I cried several times (tears of joy, relief, and sadness). She made me stand taller, feeling seen for my own abilities and struggles. We are not alone. We are strong. We are capable.
"Failure is an intersection, but even though I took a detour for a while, I ended up on a better stretch of the same road."
Breath Like Water offers hope and encouragement to anyone, any age, striving to manage their lives, overcome their circumstances, and achieve their goals.
For those concerned with triggers, be aware that this book deals with topics of mental illness and suicide.
Some of my favorite lines from the book:
"There's no worse struggle than the one that never begins."
"How do you even begin to mourn the death of a dream?"
"A year ago, I had no idea [Harry] existed. Now, nothing seems to have really happened until I've told him about it."
"And fighting, not for the promise of a reward but simply for one's own satisfaction is the greatest glory a person can attain."
"Failure is an intersection."
"To demonstrate the skills that I'm so proud of ... I have to open myself up to the censure of the world, which will judge me according to its standards, not mine."
"I'm starting to understand the power of individual moments. The joy that can be found when you're not too distracted by the faraway horizon to appreciate the beauty of where you're standing."
"Just because a dream won't bend to your will when it's convenient doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing."
[I received an early copy of this book from the publisher for free, via Net Galley, which in no way influenced my opinion.]