The deepest breath

Meg Grehan

Book - 2021

Struggling with her feelings for a female classmate, an eleven-year-old Irish girl tries to confide in her mother, the person she trusts most in the world.--

Saved in:

Children's Room Show me where

jFICTION/Grehan, Meg
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jFICTION/Grehan, Meg Checked In
Novels in verse
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt [2021]
First US edition
Item Description
Originally published in Dublin, Ireland, by Little Island Books in 2019.
Physical Description
186 pages ; 22 cm
Ages 10 to 12.
Grades 4-6.
Main Author
Meg Grehan (author)
Review by Booklist Review

This poignant novel in verse tells of 11-year-old Stevie, an Irish girl who loves acquiring all kinds of knowledge. She's especially proud of her learning skills, so when she encounters matters for which she has no answers, her emotional world is turned upside down. One such topic is her recurring nightmares, which often seem to be triggered by school anxiety and her father's leaving. The other, more pressing subject is the confusing feelings she has for her friend, Chloe. What follows is a winter adventure of self-discovery and queer-identity questioning, with plenty of support from her single-parent Mum, her friend Andrew, and an unexpected ally of a librarian. Chapter headers use sea-themed typography to allude to Stevie's drowning emotional state as her story unfolds and she nervously learns about two great unknowns, the ocean and crushes. For a child so focused on tangible facts, this type of love is a puzzle, and this novel asks big questions about representation and the lifelong process of healing, exploring how a child can choose to come out when they have no queer role models. Grehan brings a likable voice to her young protagonist, and readers will be rooting for Stevie in all of her endeavors. A heartwarming and tear-provoking coming-of-age novel, brimming with empathy and a child's imagination.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In spacious verse that mirrors a worried preteen's breathlessness, Grehan (The Space Between) vibrantly captures the anxious inner landscape of 11-year-old Stevie, an Irish girl missing her estranged father and harboring a secret crush on her friend Chloe. "Knowing things/ Makes me safe," she declares, a magical-thinking mantra that inspires her to read thick books on marine life. But just as often, she looks to her warm, wise mother for reassurance. Her mum's words are usually a gift, but they scan as an empty box when she fails to see her daughter's budding queerness ("She just gave me/ Wrapping paper/ With tape and ribbon and a bow/ But nothing/ Inside"). Though a comforting librarian offers hope to the girl, Grehan effectively depicts the loneliness of growing up in a world where heterocentrism is the default. Small in scope and big in heart and feeling, this novel is a tender portrait of gay early adolescence and a strong mother-daughter attachment. Ages 8--12. Agent: Karyn Fischer, Book Stop Literary. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

An Irish import offers a glimpse into the life of an anxious preteen who learns to accept herself and all the things she doesn't know. Stevie, 11, knows a lot of things. She knows how old whales live to be, she knows that her dad lives far away (but it's OK), and she knows Morse code is good for getting rid of nightmares. She likes knowing things; it makes her feel safe and in control. But there is one thing that Stevie doesn't know: Why does she get this funny feeling, all "warm and squishy," in her chest when she looks at her friend Chloe? Stevie is worried about these feelings and what her mum will think if she talks to her about them. So Stevie takes matters into her own hands to figure out what these feelings are and, maybe, how to make them a little less scary. This free-verse novel captures Stevie's feelings of worry with its precise use of language and repetition, which allows readers to empathize with her: "Usually when I ask my mum / Questions / Big or small or silly or smart / She gives me / Answers / Big or small or silly or smart / She wraps them up and hands them over / Like little presents / … / But this time / I think she forgot / To put the words in." Stevie's crush on Chloe is very naïve and sweet, making this coming-out tale one that is suitable for and accessible to middle-grade readers. Though this book is short, its impact could make a difference to a child struggling with anxiety or coming out to a parent. Characters assume a White default. An endearing LGBTQ+ novel perfect for middle graders. (Verse fiction. 8-10) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.