March 8, 2012

Review: Breathe by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Breathe by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Release Date: June 1, 2009
Publisher: David C. Cook
Pages: 416 pages
Source & Format: Free on Amazon; Kindle e-book
Series: The Homeward Trilogy #1
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary
Devastated by the loss of four sons to tuberculosis and his wife in childbirth, a Philadelphia patriarch sends his three living children west in 1883 to make a new life in the clean mountain air of Colorado Springs. Odessa is struggling to survive consumption; Moira is beautiful and dangerously headstrong; and pugnacious Dominic is charged with establishing a new arm of the family business a business he doesn't want. 

In Breathe, Odessa arrives at a famous sanitarium seeking a cure for the disease that killed her brothers.  She'd always expected to die young, but now that she has a reason to live, can she hold on to her fragile health to solve the mystery?

Thoughts on Breathe
I got Breathe for free on my Kindle, and I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. For a long time, I loved Christian historical fiction. In fact, it was my go-to genre when I was just looking for something to read. Then, something strange happened. I started to get frustrated with how often I could predict exactly what was going to happen in the novel - including what lessons God was going to teach them. Don't get me wrong, I love a good Christian novel, but I hate when the "Christianity" feels forced.

I didn't really know what to expect with Breathe. Odessa, the eldest sister, is near-death and battling consumption, which we now call tuberculosis. I haven't actually read any books that really talk about consumption, which was something I found interesting about this one. I always like reading about something unfamiliar. In this case, the unfamiliar was this disease. The details about the disease, the attempts at curing it, and the famous sanitarium were really intriguing.

Odessa's brother and sister, Dominic and Moira, are fighting for the chance to pursue their dreams. Odessa, on the other hand, is fighting for a chance to live. The word breathe is repeated numerous times. It becomes almost like a lifeline. Odessa's body is struggling for every breath, and she has to fight along with it.

There is some mystery in this novel, but I didn't find it that "mysterious." Again, that might just be because I've read quite a few books like this. I thought the villain was pretty obvious from the get-go. I found the story and the characters interesting. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It's part of a trilogy, and I'd actually like to read the second book. I think that's always a good sign...

The faith in this book isn't too preachy or forced, which was really nice. I really liked how it was woven into the story - it felt like it fit into the novel, not thrown in for good measure. My favorite kind of Christian fiction is the kind where faith is actually relevant to the story, not forced in.

If you like this type of book, it was an enjoyable read. I'd probably just say it's a good read, not great, but that doesn't mean it's not worth your time.

So Quotable
"I believe this country has already been painted by the hand of God. We can cover it over with our own creations, but it will merely mar what is already perfect."

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