Schmidt, Tiffany. Hold Me Like a Breath. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. 978-0-8027-3782-3. 390 p. $17.99. Gr. 8 and up.
Penelope Landlow has grown up knowing that she is the most precious, and the most fragile, person on her family’s luxurious estate. Penelope has a blood disorder that causes low platelet counts, severe bruising, and spontaneous bleeding. Like any 16-year old girl, she longs to explore life beyond her strict boundaries. Unlike any other 16-year old girl, though, the Family Business is trafficking in black market organs and arranging illegal, but life-saving, transplants. When her older brother is viciously murdered, and then a violent raid targets her parents, Penelope goes into hiding in New York City. There she falls into a fairy tale love story with a boy named Char, but time is running out for her to discover who wants all of the Landlows dead … and all the while her platelets are dropping to dangerously low levels. This first installment in the Once Upon a Crime series is an intriguing mix of fairy tale, organized crime, and medical thriller. The pace drags a little during the development of Penelope and Char’s romance, but then picks up dramatically as secrets are revealed in the final third of the book. Penelope is an endearing heroine, and her efforts to break out of her “glass princess” role will resonate with teens who feel overly sheltered.
Realistic Fiction Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School
Tiffany Schmidt is a Pennsylvania author whose novels just keep getting better. Hold Me Like a Breath will be great fun to booktalk, playing up different aspects depending on your audience, and there is a sharp book trailer out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djM0c–ouZM.