- Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5344-0601-8 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5344-0603-2 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12
Sixteen-year-old Indira may resemble her mother, but she bristles at the comparison with the woman who is strung out and keeping company with a different man every night. Indira’s Grammy, fearful of what may happen to her granddaughter, therefore sends her away to her uncle’s family in Nassau. Instead of being kept safe, though, Indira is raped by her cousin Gary; now pregnant, she’s sent into a spiraling breathlessness—despite Grammy’s protection, despite her best personal efforts, she is becoming exactly who everyone said she would be. In flashbacks woven throughout the narrative, Indira relives her darkest moments as the smallest triggers send her mind back in time. She has allies, such as her childish yet loyal cousin Smiley and her friends at the yoga retreat where she’s been given a job, but only at the very end does Indira trust them enough to share her secrets of pregnancy and assault. The ending wraps up almost too nicely, but there is a realness and great level of depth to Indira’s character, and Mather does a magnificent job of conveying a girl’s muted existence following sexual assault and trauma.