The Deepest Breath
The Deepest Breath
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Annotation: An accessible and beautifully written middle grade novel-in-verse by award-winning Irish author Meg Grehan about Stevie, a young girl reckoning with anxiety about the many things she has yet to understand -- including her feelings about her friend Chloe. Perfect for fans of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, Star Crossed, and George.
Catalog Number: #213231
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 186 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-358-35475-7
ISBN 13: 978-0-358-35475-8
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019037075
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
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)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred 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.
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Starred Review ALA Booklist (2/1/21)
Word Count: 14,868
Reading Level: 5.4
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.4 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 510715 / grade: Middle Grades
Guided Reading Level: N


      I know a lot of things
      About a lot of things
      But the thing I know the most about
      Is me

      I know that I am eleven years and two months old
      And that my hair is brown
      And my eyes are green
      And I'm allergic to peanuts

      I know I have a mum
      Whose room is right next to mine
      And that sometimes we tap and scratch on the wall at night
      Morse code is good for scaring nightmares away
      I know that

      I know I have a dad
      And I know that he lives far away
      And I know that's not my fault
      And I know that that's

      I know that I have a funny name
      Because the doctors said my mum was going to have a baby boy
      But then I popped out
      A slimy wriggly baby girl
      And she liked the name too much by then
      So Stevie it was
      And Stevie I am

      I know I like the color purple
      And things that sparkle
      And science and books
      And cats and stars and space

      I know that I broke my pinkie finger once
      And that now
      It sticks out funny

      I know I'm afraid of zombies and clowns
      And not much else
      I know I can be brave
      But that sometimes it's hard

      I know a lot
      About me

      There's only one thing
      In the whole of me
      That I don't know

      It's something funny
      It's in my chest
      And sometimes my tummy
      And always my head
      It's a fizzy feeling
      Warm and squishy
      And it makes me blush
      And it only happens
      When I look at my friend

      And I don't know what it is

Excerpted from Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

An accessible and beautifully written middle grade novel-in-verse by award-winning Irish author Meg Grehan about Stevie, a young girl reckoning with anxiety about the many things she has yet to understand--including her feelings about her friend Chloe. Perfect for fans of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World, Star Crossed, and George. 11-year-old Stevie is an avid reader and she knows a lot of things about a lot of things. But these are the things she'd like to know the most: 1. The ocean and all the things that live there and why it's so scary 2. The stars and all the constellations 3. How phones work 4. What happened to Princess Anastasia 5. Knots Knowing things makes Stevie feel safe, powerful, and in control should anything bad happen. And with the help of her mom, she is finding the tools to manage her anxiety. But there's one something Stevie doesn't know, one thing she wants to understand above everything else, and one thing she isn't quite ready to share with her mom: the fizzy feeling she gets in her chest when she looks at her friend, Chloe. What does it mean and why isn't she ready to talk about it? In this poetic exploration of identity and anxiety, Stevie must confront her fears to find inner freedom all while discovering it is our connections with others that make us stronger.

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