Cover Image: Breathless


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Member Reviews

This book was just "meh" for me. It started off strong, but then went downhill. To many themes and events happening at once, in my opinion.
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I've liked some of Niven's other titles, but I felt like something was missing with this one. Maybe it's just me, though, and my tastes have changed. We'll still definitely be buying the title for the library. Thank you for the chance to read early.
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Jennifer Niven has a way with storytelling that not many authors do. I'm such a fan of hers, and Breathless has only solidified my fandom.
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Claude's world is turned upside down when she finds out her parents' perfect marriage isn't perfect after all. In fact, her father is leaving her mother, wants her to keep it a secret, and she has to cancel her graduation plans. Nothing is the way it's supposed to be. Part of keeping it on the down low means heading to a remote island off the coast of Georgia with her mother for the summer. 
While on the island, Claude meets Miah who is a bit of a mystery, who makes her feel new things, and who challenges her perspective on things. 

I enjoyed the book overall, but felt like some of the intimate scenes were a smidge on the gratuitous side. That said, I'm also typically reviewing for my middle school library. If I was in a high school I may add it to my collection, but would still give it serious thought first.
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Another hit by Jennifer Niven.  While this novel focuses on mature themes, it will resonate with young women who are coming to terms with their sexuality and what it means to make choices for themselves.  This book is beautifully written.
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I loved this book! The plot moved along nicely and kept me interested the whole time. It definitely made me jealous and left me wishing I could find my own Jeremiah on an island someday! I will recommend this book to those who want a book with real emotions and believable plot points that leave you yearning for more and crying along with the characters.
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This one was just ok for me.  Not sure if it’s because of my age, but I just didn’t connect with the characters. And the focus on virginity and sex was a little much for me, although maybe the author wanted it to be focused on that,  I didn’t read anything about this book prior to reading it so I went in blind.  And the ending - I personally didn’t like it. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Claudine Henry’s life is upended when her father declares he wants a divorce. This results in Claude and her mother leaving their home to stay at a cabin on a small island off the coast of Georgia. There she meets an enigmatic young man named Jeremiah Crew. He’s mysterious and seems to pop up at the most unexpected times.

There’s a lot of teenage angst about sex and it diverts Claude’s attention from her distress over her father’s rejection of their family. Miah (Jeremiah) is such a fascinating character; a boy with a dark past who is irresistible. It’s not surprising that Claude is drawn to him. But there is a time limit to the summer on the island and the clock is ticking.

Niven has written a highly personal novel that explores some of the trauma she experienced as a teen when her family lived through a similar breakup. Even Miah’s character stems from someone in Niven’s life. Like her amazing book All the Bright Places, the author has once again incorporated events from her own life story into the narrative, making the book have an authentic feel. Many teens will relate to the divorce storyline as well as the relationship angst. Niven has another hit on her hands.
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I don’t read too much young adult fiction anymore but I’ve enjoyed some of Niven’s previous novels, especially All The Bright Places, so I decided to check out her newest and I loved it. I was soooooooo excited that it was set on Cumberland Island, Georgia, which is one of my favorite places. It is a romance/coming-of-age story about a teenage girl named Claude who is dealing with her parent’s divorce, graduating high school, going off to a different college than her best friend, and falling in love. I liked the positive sex and body messages in the book, as well as how consent was mentioned several times. I also liked that they referenced another one of my favorite YA books, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and even included my favorite line: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” I’ve been a bit emotional lately, so it might not be my typical reaction, but I cried like a baby at the end.
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I would to thank PRH Global for provding me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All    thoughts expressed are my personal opinion.
Description Summary: A letdown of a YA book that touched on great familial themes but was ultimately not a great book.

Score: 2.5

Here's what Nevin got right: her portrayal of family, separation, divorce, and the loss of identity that the child or teen feels after. The parts where these themes are pervalent are my favorite parts of the book. Then comes the love interest, the coming of age, and the whole teenage dramatics of falling in love; and here where she misses the point and I feel spaced out of the book. It's just comparing it to her other work, it's not a great book.

The ending was poor in my opinion. I felt it was cop out and an easy way out, though I understand why it happened I just didn't like it. 

Quite frankly, I do not understand this obsession with sex that Niven has throughout the entirety of the book. Claude comes across to me as self obsessed, sex obsessed, and sometimes too into herself.

While her melodramatic writing worked in All the Bright Places, here it had the opposite effect. Instead of having that melachonly feeling you over dramatic writing that is sometimes unnecessary.
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This was definitely a book I'll remember, but it didn't feel quite as emotionally charged as Niven's other books. 
Claude's parents are splitting up and it seems like the end of the world for her. Especially since her mother is whisking her away to an island for a the summer, canceling her end of high school road trip with her best friend. But along the way, she meets other "misfits" on the island, falls in love, and finds herself. It was heartwarming, and beautiful, and sad. It hit all the points a young adult novel would hit, and the characters were believable and relatable. Maybe I'm always waiting for Niven to make me cry, but this one just made my heart feel good. Maybe that's enough.
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Thanks for the free book, @PRHGlobal/@prhinternational !


4,5 stars

“Breathless is, in many ways, even more personal for me than All the Bright Places. It’s the book I needed when I was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen; a frank take on sex and love, divorce, disappearing floors, finding yourself, and the importance of writing your story.”

 Jennifer Niven’s introduction says it all.


I have read and loved All the Bright Places and was thrilled to get this ARC of Breathless.

I honestly savored this book. The author had a way of making nature and the island’s history with its ghosts and past feel like one of the main characters.

This is an October read but would be perfect as a summer read as you have days spend in the heat and humidity of a Georgian’s summer.

The characters are raw and messy. They try to figure out life while dealing with heartbreak caused by their families and at the dawn of a new page in their life.


Claudine is at a pivotal moment in her life.

She has finished high school, was due to go to college in Fall after the roadtrip of her life with her best friend. Only …the floor drops under her feet when her dad announces that he can’t “do” the family man anymore.

“The cat will go with us and the dog will stay with my dad. Even our pets are separating.”

Forget the roadtrip, she’ll go with her mother on an island off the coast of Georgia to regroup.

Jennifer Niven did a splendid job writing all the feelings of Claudine suddenly robbed of her life, of her family. Some pivotal scenes happened twice. Once as Claudine experienced them, imagined and dramatic  then,  a second time as it really happened still shocking but more nuanced. This writing trick had me really breathing Claudine’s anguish, anger and sadness.

“I am a person other people feel the need to keep things from, and all the things I thought were truths aren’t actually truths.”

I was also revolted by what her parents asked of her! To keep silent. That’s the worst thing you could ask from someone whose world has just been turned upside down!


When both mother and daughter arrive on the island, there is no wifi, no cars, nothing but an inn, campers, nature and some shops.

The island is special as it’s where Claudine’s ancestors have lived, loved and some died dramatically.

Needless to say that the first day, Claudine is nursing a broken heart, not understanding why her father can’t be her father any longer. She is angry, rebellious. All kind of emotions churning inside her head.


But soon she’ll cross path with Jeremiah or Miah.

He is a boy like none other. Shoeless, aloof, free. But he too is nursing some wounds. When Claudine decides that she wants to have sex with him, that’s meant to be just sex, not love…you can imagine how this will go.


This is a story of personal growth. A story of resilience too as having parents divorcing is a real drama. It’s also a time to discover who you want to be. Who you are.

There will be brash decisions and reckless behaviors. Some Claudine will come to regret but that rang so true and made the story even more relatable.

There will be confusion, fear and betrayal as Claudine does not understand what would make her suddenly un-loveable by her father, nor why her best friend kept some secrets from her and seems suddenly to forget Claudine.


I found this a very human tale, one I think any teenager will easily relate to but also, any adults as Claudine’s feelings are universal. The story was vibrant, alive and I wanted to walk on these beaches, looking for old turtles and shark teeth. Maybe one day I’ll go look for such island off the coast of Georgia, where the time seems to get suspended.


Here is one last parting quote, its’ the key to resilience when the floor is robbed under your feet.

“The thing you can count on is that at some point something bad will happen. Which makes things like blood moons and treasure hunting and you even more important.”
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This book is beautiful. The characters are relatable and feel very real. I could connect with them and I expect many students will also connect with the personalities and struggles of the characters. I will likely buy this book as it was good and this author is already on student's radars.
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Jennifer Niven is one of my must read authors. All the Bright Places is one of my favorite books of all time. It took me a little time to get into the book but once I did I loved it. At first Claude rewriting conversations in her head was confusing, but I eventually go used to that part of the book.

I thought the setting of this book was excellent. I loved the progression of Claude and Miah's relationship and their adventures. I thought the ending was not satisfying but necessary. I'd love to know what happens with Claude and Miah in the future.
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Claude and her mom are spending the summer on an island off the coast of Georgia after her parents' sudden separation. Claude has just graduated high school, and feels like her world is turned upside down for multiple reasons. Her parents dissolved marriage, her best friend's new relationship, and thoughts of her impending future all cause Claude great stress. When she meets a mysterious boy on the island, Claude is sure that a summer fling will help her forget about everything that's bothering her.

Breathless is a story about growing up and moving forward. Claude's character learns a lot about herself throughout the story, and her relationship with her mom is important. Ultimately, though, Breathless is a romance. Claude spends the beginning of the book thinking about what it will be like to have sex for the first time, and then focuses on who that boy will be. Her relationship with Miah is described as love, but seems superficial. I didn't like Breathless as much as Niven's other works.
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My first book by Jennifer Niven, but definitely not my last!

Breathless is the story of Claude, a girl who thought she had everything under control as she graduated from high school and turned toward college. Sure, her creative writing teacher found her writing to be a bit superficial ("You have to put it all out re so that we can feel what you feel. You always seem to be holding back, Claudine"), but she's got a plan. She's got a stellar summer trip planned with her bestie, a cute guy she likes, a college waiting for her in the fall, and a bright future after that as a writer. She's already working on her first novel!

(OK, so she does admit up front that the novel is probably "bad and overly long," but still...she's writing! First drafts are always crap, right? To paraphrase a dead white male author...)

But back to Claude :) Just when she thinks she knows who she is and where she's going, the rug--or the floor, as she puts it--is pulled out from under her. Her parents are separating; Claude, her mom, and their cat are going to Georgia for the summer while her dog and dad (the one who is asking for the separation) are staying in Ohio; and all of her immediate plans for the future are suddenly in shambles around her. Oh, and her parents ask her not to talk about any of this with anyone, effectively ruining her last few days at home. Even worse, her best friend has also been keeping something from her, and oh, by the way--the island which she and her mom are going to? Barely even has wi-fi or cell service. I mean, things could maybe be worse. Probably. But right then? Claude's definitely not feeling that way.

So it's a very angry, hurt, and lost Claude who shows up on the remote Georgia island for the summer, where she meets Jeremiah Crew, the boy who initially annoys her but eventually manages to see her like no one else has. And though she may or may not finally lose her virginity this summer (yes, it's definitely a big part of the story, but as someone else who was in some very similar shoes at that stage of life, it felt 100% realistic and was handled very well--I enjoyed reading this as an adult, and wouldn't hesitate it hand it to my daughter to read as well), she will definitely find a strength she didn't know she had.

The ending is a bit bittersweet (again, very realistic) but reading the acknowledgments at the end gave me all the happy feels. Do yourself a favor and don't skip them 
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I don't read a lot of "young adult" or "teen" books, but I loved Niven's previous novel All the Bright Places. I decided to give this one a chance in the hopes that I would love it as I did the last one... unfortunately it wasn't my favorite. Still a great addition to any teen collection.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

A family in crisis during the summer before a young woman departs for college.  Mistakes are made, people are forgiven, and life goes forward.  This novel is both  inspiring and heartwarming. 

I love the characters.  Thry are flawed and real.
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I am such a huge fan of Niven's All the Bright Places, but this one just missed the mark for me. I did not find the romance to be all that believable, and Claude annoyed me as a protagonist. I understand that she was going through a lot of life changes during this book, but at the same time, she just rubbed me the wrong way. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the miscommunication trope, which was prevalent in this book. Overall, I really wanted to love this because I was so excited to receive an e-arc, but it just wasn't the book for me.
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BREATHLESS by Jennifer Niven (All the Bright Places) is a very personal story of an 18-year-old girl, Claudine (Claude) Henry learning to deal with some life challenges. She writes at the very beginning of this novel, "You were my first. Not just sex, although that was part of it, but the first to look past everything else into me. ... 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." This coming of age novel reflects the teen's self-absorption – after all, it begins about a week before her high school graduation in Ohio when she is already thinking about the transition to college and planning a celebratory road trip with her best friend. That is all up-ended when her father announces that he and her mom are separating. Claude ends up spending the summer on an island (no wi-fi) near Georgia with her Mom as they try to come to terms with the new family structure. There, Claude meets Jeremiah (Miah). He is a kid with a troubled past, but he helps her to cope and truly cares for her (similar to the rebellious daughter's boyfriend in Netflix's Away with Hilary Swank). Throughout, Niven deftly conveys Claude's range of emotions (confusion, heartbreak, anger, caring) as she struggles (sabotaging and nurturing) in relationships with her best friend (Saz), with her parents, and with Miah.  BREATHLESS received a starred review from School Library Journal.
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