Friday, 23 October 2020

Book Review: Breathless by Jennifer Niven.

 

Product details:
Publisher: Penguin.
Release date: September 29th 2020.
Paperback, 400 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

The much anticipated new novel from international bestselling author Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places.

You were my first. Not just sex, although that was part of it, but the first to look past everything else into me. Some of the names and places have been changed, but the story is true. It's all here because one day this will be the past, and I don't want to forget what I went through, what I thought, what I felt, who I was. I don't want to forget you. But most of all, I don't want to forget me.

For her last summer before college, Claudine Henry and her mother head to a remote island off the Georgia coast. There, amidst the wild beauty of the place, she meets the free spirited Jeremiah Crew. Their chemistry is immediate and irresistible, and even though they both know that whatever they have can only last the summer, maybe one summer is enough . . .
 


 A visceral coming-of-age tale, Breathless by Jennifer Niven is as raw and real, as hopeful and heart-breaking, as only first love can be.

Eighteen-year-old Claude Henry, commonly known as Claude, has got the summer before she leaves for college all worked out.  Plans include losing her virginity to her number one crush, Wyatt Jones, and embarking on a road trip with her best friend, Saz. However, as parents often do, Claude’s throw a spanner in her summer plans, when they announce that they are separating.

Instead of road-tripping with her best friend, Claude finds herself accompanying her mother on a work trip to a remote island off the Georgia coast; an island so remote that the Wi-Fi doesn’t work and cell-phone service is almost non-existent. Nightmare! Claude thinks she might just about die of boredom, but then one day she meets Jeremiah Crew – Miah to his friends – and suddenly summer stuck on a remote island doesn’t seem so bad.

Sparks fly between Miah and Claude from their very first meeting. Their physical attraction cannot be denied, and their subsequent relationship, which goes from zero to zoom in record time, reflects this.  Miah and Claude’s summer fling, it’s fair to say, is a sizzling hot romp when compared to the sweet slow-burn romances synonymous with many coming-of-age tales. No fading to black here, people.

Claude is consumed by thoughts of Miah; she’s distracted by him. He helps her forget about all the bad stuff that’s going on in her life - mainly that her dad seems to want out of their family unit. How do you deal with something like that? How do you come to terms with it? This is the summer when Claude grows up in more ways than one; it’s the summer she finds herself, loses herself in somebody else, comes to terms with her new reality, and looks to the future, a future without Miah because, though Claude loves Miah and the feeling is mutual, they both know that what they have can’t last. They have their own lives to lead; their own futures to build.

Breathless is bittersweet in the way that summer romances often are; burning bright under the summer sun and fading as the leaves turn golden-brown. It’s the natural order of things, and as such, Claude and Miah never really envisage a future together. Their time together on the island has a strict time-limit, making for a relationship that is intensely passionate and all-consuming. This passionate duo do make time for other things; adventuring and exploring, delving into Claude’s family history, and even finding time to hang out with some other friends, but these distractions eventually fade into the background, and in the end, all they see is each other.

Like all the very best summer romances, Jennifer Niven’s Breathless will sweep you off your feet and leave you wanting more. Honest, heartfelt, and sweetly seductive, this is a worthy addition to any ‘Summer Reads’ shelf.

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