Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.
But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.
I was so excited to pick this up from the library but did so without realizing that it was the fifth book in the Hundred Oaks series. I don’t know how that fact escaped me. So I just left it on my shelf staring at me, not willing to return it yet but also hesitant about reading a book out of order. At 6 o’clock one morning when I just couldn’t sleep any more, I gave in. You see, I couldn’t knock this book out of my mind and it’s been that way since I saw the cover and read that excerpt. I grabbed my favourite blanket, propped myself on the couch and finished it in three hours.
I found myself wrapped up in Annie’s story immediately. Having run in the past, though not recently, I was fascinated by her decision to run a marathon and how she described her training. She’s still processing the loss of her boyfriend and rebuilding a life for herself. Doing this is her way to make Kyle’s own dream of running a marathon come true. It also keeps him close to her. As I read on, I also felt like it was personal atonement for her for the things that did go wrong between them shortly before his death. Her heart is a wreck just as much as her body is going through the grueling training. Despite the heavy discipline and the hours she spends between training, working and school, this single-minded focus is what is holding her together.
She’s thrown off when Jeremiah comes into the picture. It’s the first time she finds herself attracted to someone since Kyle and she feels a little guilt, as if she’s being untrue to his memory. But she knows life goes on and she has to go on with it. Still she won’t let her new friendship or attraction to Jeremiah mess with her end goal. That being said, there’s also something refreshing about being in his company. Annie feels the pressure and loss most around people who knew Kyle and knew them as a couple. Hanging out with Jeremiah and his family is like finding an emotional sanctuary.
As these two draw closer, Annie learns that Jeremiah has his own quirks that he’s trying to work on. The question is can she handle a friendship with him knowing that there are certain things he needs in his life? It means they both have to learn to let go, have trust and embrace risks. This is the hurdle that Annie has to jump over in order to move on.
Breathe, Annie, Breathe is worthy of all the praise. It’s written so beautifully and the emotional moments are not sappy but are treated with sensitivity. I also enjoyed the silly banter between Jeremiah and Annie. They are a good match for each other but it takes a while to get there. Any initial concerns I had about reading this series out of order has been dashed and I'll happily catch up on Kenneally's other books.