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YA Review: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

Title: Breath Like Water

AuthorAnna Jarzab

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA fiction (sports, romance)
Pages: 416
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (IL, TX, CA, NE, IA) and Hungary

Summary (from Amazon): Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

Review: I was a four-year varsity swimmer in high school and swam for one year in college so I figured the general topic of this book would appealed to me. I underestimated the book, it's really good. I do think being a swimmer added to my enjoyment as I understood all the swimming references, talk of times, pressure, starts off the blocks, long workouts, etc. I even sympathized with the main character's shoulder problems.

Susannah is a character readers can sympathize with and understand. She has devoted everything to her sport with 2 workouts a day, no time for socializing, and a new boy that she likes (how convenient that he is a swimmer, too). It's also easy to get frustrated with her because she focuses on her own world one hundred percent, and tends to forget those around her. Susannah's culture, she's Latina, also plays a role in the book, but it would have been nice to have it be even more present.

Of course there's a romance (what YA book doesn't have one?!). Harry is a great guy with problems of his own, which I won't include here in case you read the book, and he is a good vehicle for Susannah to get outside of herself and question what she's always felt and done. The name of the game is sacrifice and sometimes it's just too much.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Diversity--Latinx characters
  • Literary Escapes--Hungary and Iowa

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