And what a poignant yet uplifting contemporary this was! It was the type of story I needed: something to fully lose myself in and that in the end, will make me feel light and happy. While Breathe, Annie, Breathe satisfied those expectations, it is also not quite what I expected because there's more to this book than fluff and feel-good; it's can also be a little dark, very emotional and beautiful.
I absolutely loved how driven and determined Annie is. I first admired her character for stepping out of her comfort zone by committing to join the Music City Marathon. The book opened with her at the early stages of marathon training. It's not a secret that she's doing it on behalf of her deceased boyfriend, Kyle, who had always dreamed of running a marathon. What people around her doesn't know is that it is also to distract herself from thinking about him. To be honest, I was more conflicted and impatient at first with the mystery that surrounds Kyle's death but I soon realized that it's one of the things that made this book stand out. Kyle became a fleshed-out character through Annie's memory and we see a glimpse of their relationship throughout the book. It was so easy to feel for Annie's hurt and love for him. I can only imagine the heartbreak she was going through while harboring guilt over his death, and my respect for her grows with every step she took to honor him. The story progressed with Annie running the distances required to train for a marathon and I was hit with another dose of hard reality as I witnessed how grueling and physically taxing training could be.
And the romance? One of the most convincing I've read in quite a while! I love Jeremy and his growth arc with Annie. He has easily won me over with his charm and distinct personality. He's a complex and imperfect character; into extreme sports and an adrenaline junkie. That said, I understand where he's coming from and the reason why he's always chasing the next thrill.
P.S. I think it's time to binge on Miranda Kennelly's other books in Hundred Oaks series!