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Breath to Breath

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Uprooted from his home and sent to live with his estranged father, seventeen-year-old William is confronted with a situation in which he has no choice but to help an abused four-year-old boy, When horrible memories begin flood his consciousness, William realizes he and the boy are connected in ways he couldn’t imagine. He vows to hurt those responsible for causing the chil ...more
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Relish Media
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  129 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Ellen Hopkins
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, hard-hitting verse novel based on a true story. You won't be able to put this one down. ...more
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, young-adult
*Given advance copy in exchange for honest review*
I've already admitted in the past that I have a weakness for poetry and this book is no exception. I can also honestly say that readers who are unfamiliar with reading stories in verse and don't usually enjoy poetic language/style will almost certainly enjoy this book. Lew creates a story that reads like prose, but makes the reader feel the poetry inside. He grabs the reader with insightful line breaks, word choice, and style that are easy to app
Liza Wiemer
I love books written in free verse poetry, and BREATH TO BREATH gripped me from page one. I didn't stop reading until I reached the last page. Oh my heart! It got ripped out of my chest. I just wanted to wrap my arms around William. What happened to him chilled me to my soul. The way his personal experiences were revealed is so painful, so stunning (for the writing and for the storyline), and so powerful, that readers won't be able to stop until all the pieces come together. This book is importa ...more
Terri Farley
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a book takes you down a dark alley to show you something you don’t want to see, but if it’s the small, soft hand of a child tugging you along, you go. In Breath to Breath, readers follow 17 year old William into ugly memories of childhood sexual exploitation. Based on a true story, Breath to Breath reveals a teen whose physical toughness is combined with wrenching empathy for outsiders and it's not long before we, and William, learn why.
It’s hard to read descriptions of a childhood cru
Kelly Hager
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First, you should know that this is a really, really hard novel to read. It's about a child who is sexually abused. It's not graphic, per se, but we know that there is sexual abuse going on, and at least three separate children are victimized. (The other two make a brief appearance toward the end.) So yeah, this is not a fun afternoon's read.

This is also a novel in verse, which I know is a dealbreaker for a lot of people. (I personally like it, but just as a warning to those who don't.)

Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received a free advanced copy of this novel from the publisher.

Wow. This is a powerful story and incredibly beautifully written (free-form verse). I had trouble putting it down and am looking forward to anything new from this author.

The copy that I had had not been fully proofread and, though it included the title page for an afterword, that section was not included. I was sorry to miss it. When I reached the end of the novel, I felt as if I'd been holding my breath for ages; when I saw the t
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
* I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads*

"To survive you hold your breath, but to live you must exhale."

William's world is rocked when he is sent away to live with his estranged father that has been absent for most of his life. Unexpectedly, William becomes involved in a situation where he must help a four year old boy. As he digs deeper, William discovers just how extreme the boys stories of sexual abuse are. In a way William can't understand he is connected to this little
Charlene Ellen
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Breath to Breath is a powerful and moving story about a young man with a troubled past who is seeking to help a child escape unspeakable treatment.

The horrific and the noble are at war in Breath to Breath. Craig puts them on the same page with an artistic touch. His writing is compelling and beautiful even while dealing with violence and cruelty. I was completely absorbed by the story.
Dec 07, 2015 added it
Shelves: read-2015, ya-read
It is impossible to award stars to a book like this because it is just so devastating to know that it was inspired by a true story and that this happens every day to children across the world. An important and powerful novel that inspires discussion, awareness and vigilance.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
the middle was kind of boring, but the ending was so good??? like not good as in happy-ending but good as in wow-this-was-THE-way-to-end-it.
As an avid reader, I've come to appreciate the aphorism that says, "Read books. Don't believe them." Some of the most powerful books young adults find - Go Ask Alice, A Child Called "It" - aren't quite what they claim to be. While they document serious subjects, they aren't clouded with complexity or nuance. By drawing a lineage from "Breath to Breath" to these earlier books, I mean it as both compliment and criticism. All three are simple and earnest; again, that can be for good or ill.

The ver
BAYA Librarian
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Despite being uprooted from his home to live with his estranged father, seventeen-year-old William can’t seem to escape his history of violence. Just after moving in he is led by a stray dog to an eight-year-old boy being bullied by a group of teenagers. William goes into a frenzy as he comes to the boy’s rescue leaving one of the bullies with a broken collar bone. After returning the boy’s backpack, William hears sniffling through a fence and meets a four-year-old boy named Patches who disappea ...more
Robyn Young
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Child abuse, football, hazing, a beautiful girl -- this story has it all. And it is written in verse too. I read it cover-to-cover and couldn't put it down. Available on November 10, 2015. ...more
Cynthia Ruiz
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
this was a decent book hard to get engaged in for awhile into it. it was far to similar to Ellen Hopkins identical. but it's still worth a read. It's free verse so it's a quick read. I did like it ...more
Joanna Marple
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Haunting and beautiful.


After the death of his grandfather, seventeen-year-old William is sent across country from his quiet Kansas home to live with his estranged father on the coast of California, His dad has four house rules: the second floor is off limits; no friends over; don’t fuck with the TV and get a job! The new school provides a mix of acceptance and rejection. A mix of: bullies, a compassionate counselor, a geeky boy, and cool football coach provide at least some stability in
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
Wow. This is the first free verse book I've read that is not by Ellen Hopkins but I saw that she reviewed and blurbed it, so here I am. You can really tell that this author looks up to Ellen Hopkins in her writing and he nailed it. This was just as beautifully written and just as heart-wrenching. Like some of Ellen's stories, this one too is unfortunately based on a true one, which makes it that much harder to read. But the author did a wonderful job with it, I won't say more because I feel like ...more
William Stout’s journey begins on a train to meet and live with the dad he’s never known, and ends in a hospital room, surrounded by people he has learned to love, and those he will try to forgive. Written in free verse, Breath to Breath follows William’s physical and emotional transformation to the revealing of his deepest dreams, fears, and secrets. Leaving Kansas for California after a run-in with the authorities, William tries to adapt to a new school and the surfer scene and the bare bones, ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book for free through one of the Goodreads giveaways.

When I first received the book, I flipped through it and noticed that it was written in prose. This threw me off a little bit at first, since I had never written a book in this format. but once I started reading I realized that it didn't negatively impact the story at all. In fact, it added to the feeling and weight of the words.

This story gripped me and drew me in. It is shattering and, honestly, sometimes hard to take. Knowi
Leigh-ann Brodber
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Out of all the novels on abuse that I’ve read, I think Breath to Breath was the worst. Worst in the sense that it gave the most unembellished and gritty view of what it is like to have survived an abusive childhood. After reaching halfway into this story, I was convinced that the blurb was wrong and that the story is really about a troubled teen who gets a chance to start over. Then, I read past page 57 and couldn’t stop reading. Sexual abuse is such a sensitive topic but Craig Lew seems to find ...more
Free verse poetry is a beautiful, vivid way to tell this story without having to get "graphic" about the most painful details of William's life to this point. The novel tackles the hardest topics, with bullying being the least difficult! Abandonment and child sexual abuse are not subjects we are comfortable with - certainly not for our teens. Breath to Breath shows teens (and adults) the realities of these social ills, but in a way that is eye-opening, thought-provoking, and in the end, upliftin ...more
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
*Received advance copy through Goodreads Giveaway*

When reading the summary of this book, I was not sure how much I would enjoy this book considering the heavy subject matter. However, the verse format of this book was something I have never experienced before and really left a lasting impression on me. I was amazed at the power this book had without needing to fill each page with paragraphs of text.
Kelly Knapp
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Young adults and adults who like young adults literature
Recommended to Kelly by: Won as part of the Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway
Fresh, raw verse that creates a haunting vision of the fear and pain felt by the protaganist.

This is one of only a few stories I have read written in verse and am amazed that they are so good and tell such indepth stories; although why I am surprised is not clear given that The Ancient Rhyme of the Mariner was one of my favorite readings in high school.

The author, Craig Lew, proves with this book that he is a powerhouse writer for Young Adults.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
*Received as a Goodreads giveaway

Wow! Let me catch my breath. Written in free verse poetry and dealing with the serious topic of sexual abuse/molestation. Breath to Breath had me gripped from the get go. A touching, heart melting story of strength and survival made it a fast read. Unputdownable. Beautiful and brilliant. Mr. Lew I will be looking out for your next one.
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Read this book in about three hours. I was skeptical of the writing style at first and almost didn't read it. I am so glad I continued reading this powerful, moving story. Though I figured it out early on it still managed to knock me to my core when all was revealed. To anyone who isn't sure about this book I can say for sure you won't be disappointed. ...more
Teresa  Hartling
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
While it's classified as YA it's meant for a very mature audience. The story is based on a real person but the raw emotion of the abuse isn't described like it was in Such A Pretty Girl. The reader can tell the writer did not experience such abuse because the details and language managed to be graphic but detached. ...more
Maddie Wilson
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my first poetry books I have read. I honestly enjoy this book so much. It’s a very powerful read. When I first read the book the middle was kinda confusing and a little slow but overall it’s a very good book. To me I loved the ending it really was a surprise to me. I loved that about this book.
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this book a few weeks ago in a giveaway. I didn't remember the description and didn't read the back of the book so I kind went in blind.

It was surprising and very good, just not what I expected (not that unexpected is bad)
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
Hard-hitting verse novel, based on a true story. You won't be able to put this one down. ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s raw, you get lost in the book and forget it’s a true story. Through out the book I began to piece things together, and have suspicions. And in the end I have to admit I shed some tears, and I rarely do that. The form of the book; poem form, fit very well with the story. Over all I highly recommend this book, for young readers I advise parents to look through the book because the is some mature descriptions.
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