Review: Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: Simon and Schuster's Children's Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
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Sixteen-year-old Indy struggles to conceal her pregnancy while searching for a place to belong in this stunning debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Amber Smith and Sara Zarr.

Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules—to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow.

When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth.

Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof—it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.


In the synopsis the publisher compares Janice Lynn Mather's Learning to Breathe to books by Sara Zarr and Amber Smith, and I believe that comparison is spot on. Learning to Breathe isn't an easy book by any means. There's plenty of heartbreaking moments as well as  times at which I thought it couldn't possibly get any worse for Indy only to be proven otherwise. At the same time, however, Learning to Breathe does offer a breathe of hope, a breath of positivity, because at a core Learning to Breathe isn't about a book falling to rock bottom. No, it's a book about hitting rock bottom, only to climb out and be stronger and better than ever before. 

Learning to Breathe introduces Indy, a teenager hiding more than one secret. All her life, Indy's been the girl everyone talked about. From her body to her family to her choices, everyone seems to have an opinion. From the very first page Indy's voice grabbed me and didn't let me go until the very end. When the story first begins, Indy's at a crossroads. She's forced to leave the person she loves the most, the one who also loves her the most, and go to a new place. She doesn't fell very brave, but it was easy to see that she was. Throughout the course of the story, Indy faces so many hard choices and tough situations, but she always managed to stand strong, and I admired that about her. She was resourceful and smart, more so than many gave her credit for. I loved the relationship between her and her grandmother. It was sweet and thoughtfully developed, and I feel like it was essential to who Indy was. She never wanted to disappoint her grandmother, to let her down, and while I could understand that, there were so many times at which I wish she would've gone to her for help. 

Over the course of the book, a variety of characters are introduced - some good and some bad - and each had an important role to play. The biggest surprise, however, was Crunchy. When Crunchy is first introduced, he doesn't seem like he'll be very important, but I was wrong. Crunchy turned out to be such a sweet and caring individual, and I loved the friendship that resulted between him and Indy. It warmed my heart. I was so happy to finally see someone fighting for her again, some who was willing to do anything to help her. It was so different from the other people in her life. Those individuals...well, they were just terrible. 

Learning to Breathe deals with tough subjects - teenage pregnancy, sexual assault, etc. I thought Janice did a wonderful job of handling each topic. Indy's story is an important one, because there are girls like her out there, girls who no one will listen to, girls that need our help, and I hope this book will open people's eyes to this. Some people have said that the ending was a bit too ideal, and while I somewhat agree, I was happy with where it left off.

In all, Learning to Breathe is a heartbreaking and gripping read, perfect for fans who love hard hitting YA contemporary. This may be my first book by Janice but it certainly won't be my last. 

3.5 stars!! 

1 comment:

  1. It's funny you mentioned Churchy, because he stood out for me too. In the beginning, I was not a big fan of his, but then he showed what a good friend he could be, and I really liked him by the end.


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