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Reviewed by:
  • Breathing Room
  • Elizabeth Bush
Hayles, Marsha . Breathing Room. Ottaviano/Holt, 2012. 244p. illus. with photographs ISBN 978-0-8050-8961-5 $16.99 R Gr. 4-7.

Evvy and her twin brother have always been so close that it's difficult to comprehend why she has been stricken with tuberculosis while Abe has been spared. Now she's at Loon Lake Sanatorium, on a regimen of enforced rest and near-immobility, protected from learning any excitement-inducing news from either home or the nation, which teeters at the brink of entry into World War II. The many readers engrossed by Peg Kehret's autobiographical Small Steps (BCCB 11/96) will find strong and understandable similarities between Kehret's actual experience with disabling illness and Evvy's fictional experiences. Restricted to a room shared with other girls with little to do and much to worry about, undergoing treatments now considered ineffective (e.g., intentional lung collapse), and facing seemingly arbitrary outcomes of recovery or death, roommates engage in interpersonal dramas that become the focus of their event-starved lives. There will be considerable alignment of interest and reading levels between this title and Jim Murphy's Invisible Microbe (BCCB 9/12), and language arts and science teachers may want to consider a collaborative fiction/nonfiction reading activity. Most readers, though, won't need prodding to immerse themselves in Evvy's medical travails. Notes on the historical chapter illustrations are included.



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