Thursday, March 19, 2015

Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles

My daughter actually brought me Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles.  She read this book and found that she actually really enjoyed historical fiction.  She knows I am a fan also and thought I would enjoy it.  Breathing Room is considered a young adult book, but it really is a fantastic read. 

In 1940 young 13 year old Evelyn falls ill with Tuburculosis.  At this time in history, TB is still considered a dangerous illness and many Sanitariums, such as the one featured in this book, Loon Lake Sanitarium, existed just for TB patients.  It was also a fact that not all patient who entered these places survived.  TB was a very deadly respiratory illness with no cure. 

Evvy  was dropped off at the Sanitarium and left for what would be the time period from May 2, 1940 to July 9, 1941.  During her time at the Sanitarium Evvy would encounter other children who also were as ill as she was, and some who were even more so.  Evvy would make new friends, and lose old ones back home (this particular part saddened me, how parents can sometimes be cruel).  She would encounter death, and need to exhibit a large amount of maturity in the face of such loss. 

The author takes the reader through these emotional ups and downs with effortless writing and accompanies words with pictures appearing to capture the social stigma and going on in the world of the 1940's.  It is interesting that all the while the rest of the world outside the Sanitarium is experiencing World War 2, it really hardly touches those who are ill and encased in their own little world at Loon Lake.  I believe that the author kept the world of WW2 at arms length.  The focus was to be on the Hardships of the ill children, and how they survived their own war together, not by choice, but circumstance.

I recommend this read for children and adults alike.  Be forewarned, it is a heart string puller, BUT, well worth the ride.  I think it will be on my RE READ list.  *****

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