Author: Laurie Boris
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic
Length: 137 pages
Not often do you find a coming-of-age story that takes you by surprise. Drawing Breath by Laurie Boris does just that. With her delicate, thoughtful prose, Boris weaves a world of discovery, love and illness that is both heartbreaking and full of depth.
The story follows Caitlin, a down-on-her-luck teenager and her art teacher, Daniel. Daniel lives upstairs from Caitlin and her mother and is the talented, thoughtful artist that Caitlin longs to be. Not only does Caitlin enjoy Daniel’s artistic talent, she imagines them in a romantic relationship. However, Daniel is eighteen years her senior and thinks of Caitlin as a pupil and friend. Together, the two of them explore art, but in the end learn more about life and love along the way.
Daniel has cystic fibrosis, a lung disease that keeps him from truly trusting any adult relationship. Though this book is not just about a patient with cystic fibrosis, it does an excellent job of showing this disease and its impact on those that suffer from it. It is heartbreaking when Daniel finally confesses to the woman he’s involved with about his disease. When she leaves him, it just confirms what he’s suspected: he’s unlovable. It’s even more heartbreaking when you think of the thousands of people who actually suffer from cystic fibrosis. Boris does a fantastic job of highlighting Daniel’s plight without making a spectacle of him, something not easily done.
The thing that really elevates this book is Boris’ fantastic prose. The novel reads like a seasoned veteran’s work. Her descriptions and comparisons are worth the price of the ebook alone. The characters feel like living and breathing people; there’s not stereotype in sight. And the emotion is so raw and palpable I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen to these character I grew to care deeply about. I was genuinely impressed, especially considering this was Boris’ second novel. The one drawback is the cover, which needs an overhaul in my opinion. But for those readers who know not to judge a book by its cover, they will find a hidden gem in Drawing Breath. I see only great things for Boris’ future.
I highly recommend this read. I do think that it appeals more to adults than teenagers, however. Though sixteen-year-old Caitlin is one of the main characters, the whole book reads like an adult novel. Don’t let that dissuade you, however. For adults, this is a fantastic book from beginning to end.
4.5 out of 5 stars
You can find Drawing Breath here.
You can find Laurie Boris here.
If you enjoyed this review you can follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow Katie French on Facebook, Twitter and on her website.