Breathing Room
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Breathing Room

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  513 ratings  ·  128 reviews

Evvy Hoffmeister is thirteen years old when her family brings her to Loon Lake Sanatorium to get cured of tuberculosis (TB). Evvy is frightened by her new surroundings; the rules to abide are harsh and the nurses equally rigid. But Evvy soon falls into step with the other girls in her ward. There’s Sarah, quiet but thoughtful; Pearl, who adores Hollywood glamour; and Di

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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
65th out of 119 books — 1,085 voters
Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenHigh in School by Salman AdityaThe Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Middle Grade Novels of 2012
159th out of 342 books — 588 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,191)
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Rachael Stein
Book buzz is a capricious thing. A book gets a starred review or two, a word from the right blogger, and suddenly it's the It Girl of Publishing Year 2013. Last year it was Okay for Now. This year it's Wonder. Sometimes they show up in the Newbery pantheon (oh lovely When You Reach Me), but sometimes the committee looks further afield (Moon Over what?). If this year's committee has been casting about for neglected titles (as well they should be), Breathing Room may be up for discussion.

Sam gave...more
Kermit
4.7 stars
Loved this book! It was so interesting! It's 1940, 13-year-old Evvy lives in Minnesota, and has tuberculosis. She spends time in Loon Lake TB Sanatorium in order to recover.
Sometimes people lived for years and years in the sanatoriums, and so many patients died. Evvy experiences the typical TB care of the time which included lots of rest, lots of food, and strict medical care.
She develops relationships with the other girls in her room, and not everyone has a happy ending.
Be sure and re...more
Jessica Haight
Eveleyn’s father drops her off at Loon Lake in May of 1940. Although she is thirteen, she is scared to be left at a sanitarium by herself. What is worse is that she is only allowed to bring a few items with her, and her stuffed animal gets taken away from her because it could contain germs. Evvy has tuberculosis and in order for her to get better she must be separated from her family and follow the rules. Because she has tuberculosis breathing isn’t easy. Being alone is hard too, and Evvy has tr...more
Ellise Moore
Beautiful, moving, realistic. Breathing Room was perfect in pace, voice, and meaning. Hayles' demonstrates incredible skill for a first-time novelist in crafting her story to get a deeper meaning across. She used the word's of William Ernest Henley's Invictus to state that despite any higher forces, man is the captain of his fate: "It matters not how strait the gate / How charged with punishments the scroll / I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul.". This message was beautiful...more
Susan
Fascinating account of a young girl in 1940 rural America with tuberculosis, who goes to a sanatorium designed to help TB patients. Thank heaven we have passed the day when it was considered part of the treatment of patients to be harsh with them! (Thanks, Patch Adams, NOT part of this story, for your help in that direction!) Part of this story is how kindness went a long way with these already depressed patients, kindness from a nurse, a doctor, roommates, friends...and even how cruelty can act...more
Christa
This was such a good book! Part of the reason I liked it so much is probably because I'm an RT...But even without that, it was still good. I even learned some new things about TB! Like...I had no idea they used to give TB patients pneumos on purpose, to rest their lungs. Weird. The book was a little slow, but it wouldn't have fit the story if it wasn't. It was a short, easy read, so that made up for the slowness. I also really enjoyed all the old pics. There was a few a tear jerker moments, but...more
Ms. Yingling
In 1940, Evvy is sent to the Loon Lake Sanitorium to try to be cured of her tuberculosis. The standard treatments of extreme rest (no talking, no coughing, certainly no getting up out of bed for a long time!) are covered, but Evvy does manage to make some friends with the other girls in her ward. There is some buzz about WWII and popular culture at the time, and some people get better and some don't. For a nonfiction title to go with this, try Invincible Microbe. Queenie is another book about th...more
Jessica Payne
While this is a book aimed at a reader that is younger, (I would say middle grade or early YA), it was still very appealing. The novel, which is historical fiction, is set in the 1940's and centers around a young girl's experience in a sanatorium to treat her Tuberculosis. There is a cast of interesting characters, a historically accurate setting, and a compelling voice. The book also deals with some fairly sophisticated issues of prejudice and antisemitism, illness and death.

The story was ende...more
Heidi
Interesting to me, because while I knew a little about TB and its treatment, I didn't know as much as I learned from this book! My biggest glimpse was Cecily from "Avonlea." I liked seeing the different characters and how they coped. There wasn't great depth or development in the characters necessarily, but still a lot of good stuff to be had from the book. I especially loved the information the author included at the end. (I had no idea about poet Henley and author Stevenson! PLUS--I LOVE "Invi...more
Tami
Breathing Room is the story of Evvy Hoffmeister, a 13-year-old girl who is placed at the Loon Lake Sanitorium for tuberculosis in 1940 in Minnesota. The author grew up in Rochester, MN and her father was a pediatrician at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic there. Her feel for the area and the topic are evident in the genuineness of Evvy's voice.

With short quick chapters Evvy guides us through her time at Loon Lake from fear and loneliness to friendship, love, loss and healing. Because the novel take...more
Ashley
Found this in the YA section whilst pulling books from the picklist. My first reaction "hey, cool, a book about TB sanatoriums in YA. I must read!" So I read it and it was OK. I've read much better books about the sanatorium experience. Betty MacDonald's The Plague and I, for example.

Not The Magic Mountain, though. Euch. After about 400 pages of Magic Mountain and you start to think Naphtha had the right idea in his method of getting the hell out of that story.

"Breathing Room" was rather dull,...more
Maggie
In some ways, this book about girls with tuberculosis living in a sanatorium is sort of an odd twist on the traditional boarding school or camp story. Girls from different backgrounds are thrown together and must learn to get along; everyone has a story and isn't always who they appear to be on the surface. There are even the requisite sneaking-out scenes and a midnight-feast scene. But this is a quiet book ... literally, because the main characters are barely allowed to speak. And it is heartb...more
SwordDragon5134
Set in 1940, it's about a girl named Evelyn Hoffmeister, (Evvy) 13 years old, and she has tuberculosis. Which means she has to leave her family to go to a hospital specializing in tuberculosis. Evvy is not used to her surroundings, but she quickly learns. She has a lot of roommates, all having tuberculosis, and grumpy maids to always come to take care of them.
It's a very good read, maybe a 4th-6th grade reading level. It's good because you can see and visualize the struggles that Evvy has, and...more
Mirele Kessous
OK- I enjoyed this book. I did. It is historically authentic, the heroine has a real voice, and the writing has a quiet beauty. That said, I'm concerned that today's 12 and 13-year-old readers would not relate to Evvy. Evvy is living in a time when childhood extended much longer than it does today. She speaks of carrying a teddy bear, for instance, and she is supposed to be 13. I don't think my students would appreciate or relate to her childishness.
I'm not sure that the morbid content is suited...more
Amy
I picked this one to read because the setting sounded interesting: the story takes place in a sanatorium in the early 1940's. 13-year-old Evvy Hoffmeister has to go live there to recover from tuberculosis, and the story focuses on her feelings as she deals with being away from her family and as she makes friends with the other girls in her room. Evvy has a way with words (she loves poetry and later on discovers that she wants to be a writer in some capacity), and there are some really beautiful...more
Angie
Evvy has tuberculosis and is sent to the Loon Lake Sanatorium to recover. She is put into a room with other girls her age: Dena, Bethany, Pearl and Sarah. Together they struggle with their disease and the ever present fear that death is just around the corner.

All I have to say about this book is Wow! I loved it. It was such a powerful look and how these girls struggled every day with the certainty that death could take them. There was death around them always. And the author was not afraid to b...more
Donna
Narrated by 13 year old Evvy Hoffmeister, this story tells about her year at the Loon Lake Sanatorium in 1940. Her family sent her there to get cured of tuberculosis (TB). Never having been away from home before and separated from her twin brother, Abe, Evvy is sad, lonely, and frightened. She is put into a room with three other girls her age and quickly makes friends. There are many rules the patients need to follow in order to get rest and get better; no visitors, no mail, no walking, no going...more
Lisa
This was a wonderful read! I almost read the whole book in one sitting but a pesky little thing called sleep won out.

Breathing Room takes place in 1940 at a sanitarium for tuberculosis patients. 13 year old Evvy has to leave everyone and everything she knows in order to get well. At Loon Lake Sanitorium in Minnesota, she is housed with other girls her age in a ward where the biggest rule is to rest. This means no talking, walking, or even going to the bathroom. (Can you say metal bedpans?) Stoic...more
Liz
7-20-12
I can't believe I'm the first to have read this book on GoodReads! What a great book--a well crafted story based on such a scary time period for those who suffered with TB. I was totally engrossed and developed a bond with the characters. Tear jerker for sure, as many do not survive TB. Story is about girls living in a sanatorium, in order to heal and to prevent exposure to others as TB was a highly contagious disease in 1940. The boredom that was their daily existence as REST was one of...more
Cassandra
Breathing Room is a really good realistic fiction book set in 1941 in Loon Lake Sanatorium. Evvy is the main character, a girl with tuberculosis like the other residents at Loon Lake. Her main roommates--they change all the time--are the quiet Sarah, the strong-willed Dena, and the dramatic Pearl. Evvy fights her life-threatening disease while getting to know her roommates...but they are still overshadowed by their disease.

I really liked this book. I don't usually read realistic fiction (I prefe...more
Laurendancer1221
Mar 01, 2013 Laurendancer1221 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a slow moving book
The Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles, Evvy is turning thirteen when she finds out that she needs to be treated for Tuberculosis. Her family takes her to loon lake sanatorium in Minnesota to be cured of tuberculosis. Evvy does not like how Loon lake sanatorium is run. The rules are outrageous, the nurses are annoying, mean, and some are even evil. But Evvy does like the girls in her room. They are all very nice. Dina who has been there the longest and is still trying to hang in, Pearl who loves H...more
Christiane
Evvy is 13 in 1940, when tuberculosis was a terrifying, and often deadly, disease. She is sent to a sanatorium and made to follow extremely strict rules in an effort to cure her. You really come to know and care about Evvy and her roommates; it’s heart-breaking, if realistic, when some of them succumb to their illness. It’s difficult now to imagine how horrible this disease was and how much devastation it wrought. But even today many people in the developing world die of tuberculosis and new, dr...more
Leslie
I thought this a fantastic book and immediately wanted to know if the author had written other books. I listed it as a four star only because I really cannot be called a young adult. But I found it so interesting. It comes in the voice of a child, and explores a time in history not remembered in society. The author covers all aspects and although the novel is fiction, it reads as non-fiction. As a side note--my daughter is learning all about metaphors and onomonopias, and I thought we could go t...more
T L
Plot revolves around the treatments for children who had tuberculosis around WWII. Starts off well but, like the experiences one would have if you lived in a sanitarium, the novel slowed.
This historical novel did a great job informing the reader what it was like for girls who contracted tuberculosis, what life is like when committed to a sanitarium, what it was like to leave family and friends, and what it was like to lose someone to TB.
Gail Shipley
This historical fiction novel is set in 1940 in a sanatorium for tuberculosis. The story follows the lives of 13-year-old Evvy Hoffmeister and her roommates. This is a very touching portrayal of what it must have been like to live with TB an watch your roommates appear to get better then die. The descriptions of the struggles just t breathe and the rules for survival are very moving. I took every breath with Evvy as I read. A must read.
Joan
Powerful fictionalized account of what it was like to live in a sanatorium as a quarantined TB patient in the early 1940s. The story unfolds through the eyes of Evvy who lives in the facility for over a year. Isolated from family and friends, they face the boredom of living in bed, the fear of what will happen, and the suffering of the disease. The girls manage to forge close friendships and find minor diversions, but the reality of death is never far away.
Lisa
Aug 10, 2012 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids, arc, ala
A beautifully-written story with wonderful characters. The girls in the sanitarium ward with Evvy are all different and deal with the worry and fear of being a TB patient in different ways. As the story progresses, they come to understand each other better, and Evvy forms strong friendships. Evvy also starts to find her voice in writing poetry, making this a particularly good recommendation for young writers.

It's not full of action, but it is a compelling story. Death is very real, and some of...more
Becky
Breathing Room is an excellent book that discusses life for a young teen girl, Evvy, in a TB sanatorium in the early 1940s. Her days are filled with rest and friends. The end notes of the book give good historical and factual data about TB and sanatoriums. They also describe and credit the photographs that appear in the book. Just a note (and spoiler alert), I noticed that Barnes & Noble had the age of this novel for 10-14. I agree with the upper end of this range, but want to caution people...more
Ann Haefele
An amazing survival story that takes place in the early 1940s at Loon Lake Sanatorium. 13 year old Evvy is there to be treated for tuberculosis. This is a quiet story with strong character development as Evvy develops relationships with her roommates, some who survive and some who do not. I did not want the story to end as I was so connected to the main character, Evvy. There is a not to be missed afterword with a history of tuberculosis and its treatment. One of the many things I learned in thi...more
Pamela
Well written, and interesting development of character and friendship. Also, curious insight into obsolete but previously wide-spread practice of sending kids to sanitarium to try to heal from TB. It helps you imagine what it might have been like to be ordered to stay in bed for 20+ hours a day for weeks and months, even years, at a time.
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Marsha Hayles is the author of many picture books and now a novel for young people. Her picture books frequently make use of rhyme and playful language, and range in topic from celebrating a day at the beach to suffering sore feet. Her novel Breathing Room is about girls suffering from tuberculosis at a sanatorium in 1940 and reflects her life-long interest in medicine, inspired, in part, by her c...more
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