Review ARC | 2020 Letdowns : Breathless

I would to thank PRH Global for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed are my personal opinion.

Description Summary | A letdown of a YA book that touched on great familial themes but was ultimately not a great book.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Book Summary | (Skip to Review)

Claude Henry’s senior bucket list includes: 1. Having sex for the first time. 2. Losing it to Wyatt Jones, her longtime school crush. 3. Having a epic Summer road trip with her best friend Saz before going off to college.

But life takes a turn, a hurricane type of turn, and the normalcy of Claude’s life is shattered when her father announces that him and Claude’s mother are separating. That’s when her plans irrevocably change and Claude’s mother takes her to an isolated island where hopefully mother nature will help them heal. And because Claude’s mother has a book to write and she’d rather keep herself busy than drown in her own tears.

So now Claude’s list includes: 1. An island in the middle of nowhere. 2. No cell phone service or wifi. 3. A non-existent father.

That is when she meets Jeremiah Crew, islander and former criminal, who has found purpose and solace in the island. Charmed, Claude finds him irresistible and the two embark on an adventure that will forever change their lives.



Let’s say I’m disappointed, Niven has wrote All the Bright Places which is one of my favorite books of all time. So I can’t wrap my head that this book is written by the same person.

The first 20 pages were unbearable, but thank god the catalyst of the plot decided to make itself visible because only then did the book manage to become worthwhile.


Here’s what Nevin got right: her portrayal of family, separation, divorce, and the loss of identity that the child or teen feels after. The parts where these themes are pervalent are my favorite parts of the book. Then comes the love interest, the coming of age, and the whole teenage dramatics of falling in love; and here where she misses the point and I feel spaced out of the book. It’s just comparing it to her other work, it’s not a great book.

The ending was poor in my opinion. I felt it was a cop out and an easy way out, though I understand why it happened I just didn’t like it.


Her writing is fantastic when you lose yourself into it, and I could sense the parts where Niven herself was totally engrossed into it you can’t help but get sucked in too. Those parts where the author loses herself in the writing is the best for me; it is then that she strikes true.

While her melodramatic writing worked in All the Bright Places, here it had the opposite effect. Instead of having that melachonly feeling you get over dramatic writing that is sometimes unnecessary.

The effect is even more pronounced because even though the MC is written as 18, the way that she is from mannerisms to dialogue evokes a much younger teen. So when the thoughts of this person evokes deep thinking and fleshed out thoughts yet in reality she is quite the opposite, the discrepancy between the two adds more contrast and makes you feel disconnected from the book.



Quite frankly, I do not understand this obsession with sex that Niven has throughout the entirety of the book. Claude come across to me as self obsessed, sex obsessed, and sometimes too into herself. Every single boy she sets eye on, all she’s thinking about is sex and how to get him alone. It’s putting off to say the least.


Jeremiah is your typical bad boy with daddy issues, perfect for a summer fling then dramatic breakup and heart ache type of romance. Again nothing really stood out for me, and I feel like I would have gotten to know him better if Claude did not think of doing it everytime she laid eyes on him 🙂

However what Niven excels is showcasing the family problems and tragedies that Jeremiah has faced and is facing; their impact on him as a growing teenager becoming an adult.

In the end though I couldn’t care for these characters. I sympathize yes but not care.

Do I recommend? No. If you like boys with a dark past I recommend The Serpent King by Jeff Zetner. If you like broken souls finding each other I recommend her other book All the Bright Places or The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Date published: September 29, 2020


Published by jawahirthebookworm

Hello I’m Jawahir the bookworm, a lost twenty-something year old bookish blogger who enjoys her books with a cup of strong coffee; milk no sugar no cream.

3 thoughts on “Review ARC | 2020 Letdowns : Breathless

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