Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.
Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.
And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.
All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.
Hold Me Like a Breath is a fresh young adult contemporary fiction novel. It follows our unique main character, Penelope, who's father runs the biggest crime Family in the US and who also suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder that causes her own body to destroy the platelets in her blood. Penelope was such a fantastic main character for the book. Aside from her family's business, her disease basically keeps her at arms length from everyone - including her family. She's not allowed to most activities - especially going off-estate. In the story, she's had enough of being stuck at home and begs to be allowed at least one day outside the gates. She's sick of everyone treating her like she's going to break and just wants to be (or at least feel) normal for once. She's kind, caring, smart, a loving and devoted daughter and sister, and fiercely determined. We get to see her character mature and grow throughout the story - and Penelope is finally able to learn some tough life lessons, along with showing people that she's not as breakable as they think.
The plot of the story was truly original. I've never read a book about a teenage daughter of a big crime family before - especially not one with an autoimmune disease. I don't normally go for contemporary fiction much because they all seem to blend together, but the description for this book screamed originality. I'm so glad that I took a chance on it, because it was fantastic. There's a lot of things that happen throughout the book - much of it has to do with the Family, their business, and rival Families - which would be hard to describe in a review. I found it to be entirely fascinating and loved learning about it all. The author intertwines so many genres in the book that it refuses to be labeled and put into one box. There's something for everyone - action, suspense, contemporary issues, adventure, and even some romance - to name a few. The writing was excellent on all levels. The author uses such vivid imagery and descriptions that I could easily slip inside the story and experience everything that happens alongside Penelope. Like I mentioned, I've never read any books dealing with crime families - but the way that the author described it all made me feel like I was actually there and I was able to easily envision every aspect.
If you've read any of my other reviews, you know how much point of view factors into my experience with a book. The author chose to write in the first person POV with Penelope as the narrator. This style is by far my favorite because the reader gets to know the narrator, which is usually the main character, on such a deep and personal level that can't be matched by any other writing style. I love that the book is told from Penelope's POV. She's a very complex character, but we're able to really get to know her throughout the story. We learn her hopes, fears, dreams, inner thoughts and emotions, along with experiencing the story from her eyes. Another benefit of this writing style is the conversational tone that the story is told in. Being done in such a personal voice makes it feel like you're there with the character while everything happens - or even that they're later telling you the story in their own words. This is another reason why I adore the first person POV and why I believe it's the best one to use - at least on the reader's end. The pace was normal at first - not too slow but nothing really exciting happening. When the pace does pick up, it doesn't slow down until the very end. There were definitely some twists and turns in the plot that I didn't see coming - and they packed quite a punch. The story itself basically screams action and a fast pace - which is precisely what we get. Although it moved quickly, I was never confused or overwhelmed, and the way the story flowed felt natural and effortless. When it comes down to it, the writing was nothing short of phenomenal on all levels. I honestly can't recommend this book highly enough - especially to those who enjoy YA contemporary fiction. There's a lot of crossover appeal, so fans of various genres - from action and adventure to suspense, crime, and even romance - will want to pick up this book. This is one book that you definitely don't want to miss out on!
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