Breathless – Jessica Warman

August 25, 2009

When Katie Kitrell’s older brother is sent back to the mental institution, their parents believe the best thing for Katie is to go to boarding school. Katie, who has always been a loner, soon becomes friends with her class’s most popular girl. In her free time, Kate swims. At the pool, Katie meets Drew, and they soon become more than friends. The students are more than curious about Katie. Few students enroll in their sophomore year like Katie. Instead of telling the truth, however, Katie tells everyone that her brother died. Then, Katie’s roommate, Mazzie, answers a phone call from Katie’s dead brother…

Breathless by Jessica Warman is a novel that started off strong. I was intrigued by Katie’s way of life. From the beginning, Katie’s potential at swimming is clear. She’s not just good at it; she’s great. Katie could easily get a swimming scholarship at a wonderful university. Instead of living up to her potential, Katie is seen smoking cigarettes with her schizophrenic brother, while they both express their dislike for their father. Katie and Will’s father drowns himself in his work instead of spending time with his family. His children nickname him, “The Ghost.” Their mother spends her time drinking alcohol. With such a well-developed (and dysfunctional) family, I thought this would be a novel that focused on family, and how this affects Katie’s growth as a character. Unfortunately, Breathless was a different type of novel.

Once Katie starts boarding school, the novel briefly touches on the lie Katie tells about Will. However, this lie quickly takes the back seat for a different plot line. Instead of focusing on Katie’s lie, Warman chooses to focuses on Katie’s new life including her friends and boyfriend. In the end, this made a novel that could have been slightly different from regular YA novels into a typical YA novel. Also, I did not like that Warman touched on religion. Drew, Katie’s boyfriend, is a devout Christian. Katie is not religious at all, so Drew tries hard to convert her. This part of the plot just seemed so out of place.

Breathless is a novel that started out strong, but ultimately failed to live up to what it could have.