Just Breathe

By: Cammie McGovern

David Sheinman is the popular president of his senior class, battling cystic fibrosis.

Jamie Turner is a quiet sophomore, struggling with depression.

The pair soon realizes that they can be their true selves with each other, and their unlikely friendship develops into something so much more. But neither Jamie nor David can bring themselves to reveal the secrets that weigh most heavily on their hearts—and their time for honesty may be running out.

ISBN: 9780062463357

JLG Release: Mar 2020


Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes; Strong language; Suicide; Mention of a parent’s drug addiction
Topics: Cystic fibrosis , Clinical depression , Friendship , Romance , High schools , Hospitals , Illnesses , Art and artists , Dancing

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly, Booklist*, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

High school sophomore Jamie Turner hasn’t had friends in more than a year—she lashed out at them after her father’s death, and now she eats lunch alone. Senior class president David Sheinman has lots of friends and a talented girlfriend, but he’s afraid that the truth will scare them away—David has cystic fibrosis, and less than two years High school sophomore Jamie Turner hasn’t had friends in more than a year—she lashed out at them after her father’s death, and now she eats lunch alone. Senior class president David Sheinman has lots of friends and a talented girlfriend, but he’s afraid that the truth will scare them away—David has cystic fibrosis, and less than two years to live without a lung transplant. Jamie serves as a volunteer at the hospital, where she and David meet and bond despite the differences in their social strata. David is grateful for Jamie’s willingness to engage with the weighty issues he’s grappling with. For Jamie, helping David also helps her recover from the depression she has struggled with since her father’s death by suicide. But when David’s definition of “helping” evolves from watching old movies and learning origami to sneaking out of the hospital, Jamie’s choices unintentionally put David’s life at risk and lead everyone around them to question whether their relationship is healthy or harmful. Alternating between Jamie’s and David’s perspectives, this book offers a gentle, slow-burn romance between two struggling teens who forge a deep connection based on experiences that are not common to the age group. Fans of the author’s previous titles will find familiarity in the presence of nuanced characters who refuse to be defined by their disabilities or illnesses, and quiet, compassionate Jamie is a particularly appealing protagonist whose journey through grief and depression is portrayed sensitively and realistically. However, the pacing slows toward the middle of the book and some events feel forced to manufacture sufficient drama. A sweet, hopeful romance that tackles big questions about life and death, perfect for fans of Rachael Lippincott’s Five Feet Apart or John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.

Horn Book

In this slow-burn romance novel told from alternating perspectives, McGovern (Say What You Will, rev. 7/14; A Step Toward Falling, rev. 9/15) introduces another pair of disparate teens who forge an unlikely connection, this time over a shared experience with chronic illness. Jamie, homeschooled for most of her life, feels isolated aft In this slow-burn romance novel told from alternating perspectives, McGovern (Say What You Will, rev. 7/14; A Step Toward Falling, rev. 9/15) introduces another pair of disparate teens who forge an unlikely connection, this time over a shared experience with chronic illness. Jamie, homeschooled for most of her life, feels isolated after her father’s suicide and her own hospitalization for depression. Then she meets and befriends David, the senior-class president, while she is volunteering at the hospital. At school, David is a celebrity, but at the hospital, he is a cystic fibrosis patient grappling with a dire prognosis. The two divulge their nerdy interests (for Jamie, old movies; for David, ballroom dancing), exchange gently flirtatious emails, and share deep thoughts over origami. Their conversations are notably forthright; they approach difficult topics—such as the stigma of hidden illness, impossible expectations from friends and family, and the intersections of mental and physical health—from sensitive, age-appropriate perspectives. The thrill of intimacy inspires despondent David to seize control of his increasingly limited life, but when he enlists Jamie to sneak him out of the hospital, disaster ensues. The subsequent cascade of consequences veers toward melodrama (for example, David hovers over his body in a coma dream for a few chapters), but the resolution, like the teens’ relationship, unfolds carefully, without sugarcoating, and feels genuinely earned.

Book Details

ISBN

9780062463357

First Release

March 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Page Count

352

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Harper Teen

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Mild sexual themes; Strong language; Suicide; Mention of a parent’s drug addiction

Topics

Cystic fibrosis, Clinical depression, Friendship, Romance, High schools, Hospitals, Illnesses, Art and artists, Dancing,

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