Title: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Genre: YA (Suspense? Romance?) It’s a little hard to place. Is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea
Synopsis: 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.
I’m a big fan of crime/ suspense novels where there’s a love story and a who-done-it mystery. I’m always on the look out for those types of book, so when I received an egalley of “Hold Me Like a Breath” from netgalley, I was super excited. The synopsis reads like something I would totally want to sink my teeth into, and it did not prove false. This book has some fault, but if you can get past them there’s a great story at it’s core and a really interesting concept of organ donation.
What I liked: From the very beginning I felt a kinship with Penny (Penelope Ludlow) our MC. Penny suffers from a debilitating illness, which means she constantly has to be careful, and as such, she is basically confined to her family’s estate. I know some people who read this are going to be all “Penny is a whiny bra,” etc. But, if you have any sort of illness that can limit your life, or something that forces you to be a little extra careful you will completely relate to Penny. I find it’s rare to see someone in YA who suffers from illness, and I’ve never seen a character with Penny’s types of limitations. I enjoyed how it shaped Penny’s character (she was both childlike and too old for her age) and it also shaped how she interacted with others. Eventually, Penny is forced off the confines of the estate she and forced to survive in the world she has spent so much time dreaming of yet being afraid to be in. Penny is forced to deal with some very heavy circumstances, which I don’t think she would have been able to cope with had she not been such a strong young woman. Outside of Penny, the writing in this book was very beautiful. There are many scenes dealing with grief and death and the way the author tackles them head-on and without cutting corners often brought me to tears. There are two scenes in particular: one where Penny finds a loved ones body and the second where she begins journaling all the things she wishes to remember about the people she lost, which really tugged at my heart. These are stand-out scenes where Schmidt’s writing ability shines through.
What I didn’t like: I had two very major issues with this book. Both of which were too large and intricate to brush under the rug, and honestly brought down the beautiful parts for me. One, was the romantic angle. The book begins with a sweet romance and we are built up to think a certain character is our main love interest. Then suddenly, like a smack in the face, our heroine Penny forgets all about him and moves on to another guy she barely knows. This character is supposed to be endearing and nerdy where the other was all bronze and protective instinct, but really this new love interest just soured the story for me. I’m all for love triangles, but you have to make me believe it, and you have to make me invested in it. Schmidt just threw in a foil. Going off that, we have my second biggest issue. The original love-interest is semi-bad??! Without warning, his character flips and he’s not the good guy anymore…kind of…instead we are to believe he’s contented himself with standing by while others destroy everything thing he apparently holds dear. I don’t believe it. It didn’t mesh with how his character was written in the beginning. and frankly I’m mad for him rather than mad at him. The ending felt like the author decided mid-way to switch up some major pieces that I was just not okay with her switching up.
Overall, this is a great story that can and probably will make you weep, but there are some definite issues in the romance department so stay alert early 4/5