Breathless by Jessica Warman

Luckily, no one that was a big part of my life has ever become extremely mentally ill. Although, after reading the novel Breathless, by Jessica Warman, I feel as if I have experienced it. “At one point, years ago, somebody reached out and unlocked the cellar door in his head, and there he was: forever unhinged.” (pg 165)
Katie Kitrell, a 15 year old girl going into her sophomore year, is sent off to a boarding school 4 hours away called Woodsdale Academy by her parents, when her brother Will reaches his breaking point in his mental illness. For the three years spent at boarding school, Katie will spend her time hanging out with the popular kids, in which she gained their acceptance by telling them that her brother had actually died. When Katie’s not with her friends, she is at the pool swimming, which is the only place that she is truly comfortable. Katie’s life seems almost perfect to her sometimes, she’s a beautiful girl with an amazing talent who is destined to go to an Ivy League school. But when reality comes into play and Katie remembers the lie about her brother really isn’t true, the only place she can actually breathe is under the water.
Katie meets a lot of interesting people at her new school, and all of these characters are what make the story so interesting. Katie and her roommate, Mazzie, don’t get along when Mazzie first moves in. But, by the end of their 3 years of living together, they’re more like sisters than friends. Mazzie is the one and only person at school that knows Katie’s deep dark secret (even Katie’s boyfriend of 3 years, Drew, doesn’t know as much about Katie as he thinks.) Mazzie has the ability to wreck Katie’s life in minutes with the information that she has. Another girl that Katie meets at school is Estella, the antagonist of the story. Even though Katie and Estella act like they are best friends, they both know very well that they are truly enemies, rather than friends. Estella is a rich snob, who will do anything to prove that she is better than everyone else. “If people weren’t so quick to judge, just based on what she looked like, she might not be able to get away with so much.” (pg 69) Other characters that Katie meets that are significant to this story are Katie’s friend Lindsey, Drew’s friend Stetson, a college kid named Eddie, and Katie’s swim coach.
Throughout the novel Breathless, there were two themes that constantly popped up in my head. The theme that ‘lying doesn’t get you anywhere” and also the theme “expect the unexpected” are a couple of lessons Jessica Warman portrayed throughout her novel. Throughout the book, Katie shows the readers how complicated it is to have to live by a lie. It’ll make you think twice before telling a lie next time. The theme “expect the unexpected” is also shown towards the end of the book, when many things don’t go as Katie had planned.
Breathless is one of my favorite books that I have read. It’s definitely a ‘page turner’ type of book, as it was impossible for me to put down. What I liked most about Breathless, was that it was like a taste of everything; it could fit into a few different genres. The book is a mystery for the fact that you want to know what’s going to happen with Katie’s brother Will, and you also are constantly asking yourself how Katie will make it through high school. Along with being mysterious, the book also has a lot of drama, and even a romantic twist. This book is perfect for teenage girls because it has a little bit of everything that teenagers go through. I’m the type of person who usually doesn’t enjoy reading, but this book has made me think differently about reading, and I am excited to read more books by this author.





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