Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Breathless: Jessica Warman
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.
OPINION: 4 STARS
Throughout much of this book, I found myself to have mixed feelings about it. At times, I was bored and other times I was interested and other times I just wanted to smack several of the characters- but the last little bit of the book pulled everything together pretty nicely.
Will's part in this story was certainly the most emotional- the toll on his family because of his mental illness was hard to read, especially because of how young it all started for him. Watching how innocent he was despite it all made it even worse because he truly though he was protecting people and he honestly thought he was doing the right thing. This is a book that shows that while society would want to write him off- and Katie even tried to pretend he was dead while she was at boarding school for that reason- it is much harder for the family to do so, nor should they. I really felt bad for Will, particularly at the very end and everything that happened to him but I think his part of the storyline was beautifully done although Katie kept mentioning how she blamed the town for what became of her brother but apart from one incident, those reasons and events are never told which did bother me- she makes such a profound case but the evidence is never provided.
Katie was hot and cold for me- sometimes I sympathized with her and could understand her motives and other times I felt blindsided and confused. She jumped back and forth, particularly about Will- one thing happens and she still fights for him, then something else happens and she totally cuts him off. Enter another incident, and suddenly he's the only thing that matters to her. It drove me crazy and for awhile, I thought it was such a stereotypical, weak character but it isn't. Not really, at least, because I have plenty of friends who flip flop like that so much and so rapidly they could probably win an Olympic Gold. Katie is in high school, struggling to stay afloat in many areas of her life, with little support coming from home for it. By the end of the novel, I could see the profound change and development in her- the things she learned from all this and the ways she grew from it. Though some of the events seemed repetitive, cliche for these books, and even irritating, the effect it had on Katie was still clear.
Drew was a character that made me mad more than anything. Even at the end, I still thought he was really just a hypocrite, despite the good things he did. He devoted his life to God but still went overboard on trying to save everyone, having no qualms about condemning someone to Hell. It seemed like the part of the Bible about being humble missed him and I kind of feel like that particular facet of Drew was simply not done that well- his faith showed up at random times and disappeared at others.
The writing was good for the most part, though it seemed like every character licked their lips when they were either total horndogs or on the verge of telling some great piece of gossip to ruin their lives. It became very noticeable everytime a sentence was only 'He licked his lips.' It most definitely started to get to me and I would stop and just gawk at it towards the end when it kept happening, wondering why everyone seemed to have that habit but things like that always bother me in books. Warman had a few very great moments of explaining things that just made perfect sense, phrasing it on a way that was simplistic but fulfilling.
Overall, I give this one 4 stars because even though I did have some gripes about it, the ending was completely bittersweet and those always shine for me. Parts of the book did seem to drag but I do like that it covered 3 years and not just a semester or two. The changes and events that took place were not instant and rapid- they were spread out, fueled by the experience Katie earned just finishing out high school. That aspect most definitely made this story unique because she was definitely an immature idiot at the beginning of the book, starting her sophomore year, and became almost a new person by the time she graduated.
Posted by Kari Olson at 3:49 PM