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Summary (from Goodreads):
“Uprooted from his home and sent to live with his estranged father, seventeen-year-old William’s world is feeling tenuous at best. When he’s unexpectedly dragged into a situation in which he has no choice but to help an abused four-year-old boy, William’s world is rocked to the core as he discovers the truth behind the mysterious young boy’s stories of extreme sexual abuse. He and this boy are connected in ways William can’t even imagine and as horrible memories begin flood his consciousness, William’s rage drives him to steal a neighbor’s guns, convinced he must kill those responsible for causing a boy so much pain and betrayal. How William finds the love and compassion he needs to make the right choices is the heart and pulse of this riveting verse novel. Inspired by a true story, BREATH TO BREATH explores what hurt and healing really mean: to survive you hold your breath, but to live you must exhale.”
First, you should know that this is a really, really hard novel to read. It’s about a child who is sexually abused. It’s not graphic, per se, but we know that there is sexual abuse going on, and at least three separate children are victimized. (The other two make a brief appearance toward the end.) So yeah, this is not a fun afternoon’s read.
This is also a novel in verse, which I know is a dealbreaker for a lot of people. (I personally like it, but just as a warning to those who don’t.)
William’s journey throughout this novel is amazing and inspiring. He now lives with his dad—they have not really had a relationship up to this point—and he’s in a new state, going to a new school. He’s got anger issues that he’s trying to bring under control…so basically about every reason you can think of to be unhappy.
Yet he quickly makes a friend and has a potential girlfriend. Things are looking up…except he can’t stop thinking about this little kid he met by mistake and who he knows is being sexually abused. He tries everything he can think of to find and help the little boy, but nothing works.
This is the kind of book that will seriously affect you. It’s not an easy read, and the ending shattered me. But it’s important to read books that will affect you, not just the ones that will make you smile.
These things happen in the world; the least we can do is bear witness.
Craig Lew’s storytelling career began even before he had learned to write. As a child, he used his father’s tape recorder to capture tales about strange planets and scary creatures. His favorite story openings at that time were, “Once upon a junk yard heap …” or “It was a dark and stormy night.”
A movie producer, director, award winning author, illustrator, and screenwriter, Craig still favors a Hitchcockian thriller over a broad teen comedy. Regardless of the genre, he believes the best stories involve a hero who is either seeking love or giving love. At heart he’s a big, mushy romantic.
Craig spends his days with his fiancé in a house on a hill with the corgi land seals Yobo and Zeekie, a three-footed Boston Terrier named Moogie, and Smittens, the kitten with the marshmallow mittens.
I strive to spread good karma. Artistically, I enjoy pushing the envelope because I believe this makes more room in the middle. I believe the keys to success are dreaming big, working hard, and being nice.