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Just Breathe by Cammie McGovern

April 15, 2020

Just Breathe is gonna be the easiest book to sell. Did you like Five Feet Apart? Then here ya go. Yes, it’s more “sick lit”. Yep, like FFA, it’s Cystic Fibrosis. But that’s where the differences end. David has CF but his parents have always assured him that he has a “mild case” so he has always assured his friends (and himself) that it’s no big deal. He’s President of the Senior Class. He has a longtime girlfriend. He’s well-liked and charismatic. He’s got no time for CF. But he can’t pretend any longer. Turns out, there’s no such thing as a “mild case” of Cystic Fibrosis. When David finds it increasingly difficult to breathe, his doctor encourages him to get on the waitlist for a lung transplant. His parents are convinced he can fight it (can you say “denial”?) but David believes his doctor. He wants a chance at a longer life. He chooses to change his life, admits he can’t control his CF, and is admitted to the hospital. Jamie is a quiet, friendless sophomore who suffers from severe depression. She is not dealing well with her father’s death and seems to be suffering from PTSD (the reader is not made aware of the trauma that caused the disorder until the end of the book). Her mother encourages her to volunteer in the hospital where Mom is a nurse. Her job is to cheer up patients but she doesn’t feel like she’s doing a very good job. When she sees that the Senior Class President of her school is a new patient, she is not optimistic that she can be of help to him. But she gives it a go and the two develop a friendship. This friendship will become a lifeline to both of them. The only time they can truly be themselves is with each other. It’s not until friendship turns into something more but the secrets they’re both keeping from the other could threaten both of their lives.

A different kind of love story, a realistic portrayal of CF and depression, and a powerful message to teens to speak their truths. Just Breathe will be a popular book with teens.

 

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Nina O'Daniels

nodaniels@fz.k12.mo.us

Shannon Grieshaber

grieshaber.reads@gmail.com

Created in 2017