Review: Breathless by Jennifer Niven

Before: With graduation on the horizon, budding writer Claudine Henry is making plans: college in the fall, become a famous author, and maybe–finally–have sex. She doesn’t even need to be in love. Then her dad drops a bombshell: he’s leaving Claude’s mother. Suddenly, Claude’s entire world feels like a lie, and her future anything but under control.

After: Claude’s mom whisks them away to the last place Claude could imagine nursing a broken heart: a remote, mosquito-infested island off the coast of Georgia. But then Jeremiah Crew happens. Miah is a local trail guide with a passion for photography–and a past he doesn’t like to talk about. He’s brash and enigmatic, and even more infuriatingly, he’s the only one who seems to see Claude for who she wants to be. So when Claude decides to sleep with Miah, she tells herself it’s just sex, nothing more. There’s not enough time to fall in love, especially if it means putting her already broken heart at risk.

Compulsively readable and impossible to forget, Jennifer Niven’s luminous new novel is an insightful portrait of a young woman ready to write her own story.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Rating: 3⭐️

I really enjoyed Niven’s All the Bright Places so I was looking forward to picking up her newest YA contemporary. Breathless is a sweet story about a teenager growing up, finding confidence in herself, going through changes in her family and growing up. Niven excels at portraying teen emotions and Claude felt like an authentic, flawed and lovable character throughout the story. It was slow and had a bit too much flowery language for my taste, but some may really appreciate this story.

Claudine is a very authentic portrayal of a teenage girl – she has friends and family that she loves, she has massive obsessive crushes on boys she barely knows and she is struggling to find her place in the world. I found her extremely relatable and simultaneously found myself glad I no longer suffer from that teenage angst anymore. Sure she was a bit single-minded about certain things – like having sex – but honestly, what teen isn’t when they set their mind to something? However Claude’s normal teenage life comes crashing down when she gets news that will change her family forever. She is forced to uproot her life and spend her last summer before college on a small island near Georgia. There, she meets mysterious and attractive Jeremiah Crew.

As Miah and Claudine grow closer, I found myself remember what first love is like and Niven does an excellent job of portraying the intense, overwhelming feelings that go along with it. Their relationship is sweet, dramatic and somewhat obsessive (in the best way possible). It was very nostalgic to read! Claude also spends much of the book reconnecting with herself, finding her identity and doing a lot of growing up. All of this has a nice message, but it just felt a bit..slow at times. Not much really happened throughout the entire course of the book. The story was nice, but not quite enough for me.

The part of the story I probably appreciate the most was the ending. Niven portrayed a realistic ending that made me feel nostalgic, happy and heartbroken all at once! After reading her acknowledgments, you see that this is a very perosnal story for her and it made me appreciate it more.

This was a nice story and I do recommend for people who enjoy coming of age and first loves. There were times when the story tried to be too profound but I still appreciated the overall message. Not my favorite by Jennifer Niven but still a well-written young adult contemporary story.

Have you read Breathless? What were your opinions? Tell me in the comments!

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