Lo was just six when she met thirteen-year-old Lukas the night a brushfire threatened their community. Both the children of immigrants, both wild with love for the land, theirs was an easy friendship despite the fierce injunctions of Lo’s family. Meeting in secret at an abandoned lake house, they whiled away their summers in the water and their winters curled up inside, reenacting dialogue from their favorite film, Breathless.
How a friendship so innocent and pure—and so strictly forbidden—could be destroyed is a mystery that unfolds across Lo’s travels from Berlin to Copenhagen to New York, from tryst to tryst, as she seems fated to roam the outside world she blames for tearing her and Lukas apart. Haunting, resonant, full of humor and heartrending depth, Breathless explores how childhood acts can stake an unimpeachable claim on our older selves, and how atonement might be wrest from the past.
How do I even begin to describe this book? As I was reading it I found myself caught between feeling bored and feeling transfixed. I didn’t really like it but I couldn’t put it down. I loved it but I was afraid to pick it up again. My emotions ran hot and cold throughout the book. I knew little about what was going on, but I understood it all.
I realize as I am attempting to write this review that I can’t pin down what I want to say, and therefore I am not going to try, other than to throw out a few adjectives: haunting, beautiful, tragic.