Out of Breath by Blair Richmond is a young adult novel that will have readers quickly turning the pages to find out what secrets Kat Jones is hiding and why the town of Lithia where she ends up seems so ethereal and mysterious. Kat arrives in Lithia, where she was born, after running from something that happened in Texas, and everyone in the town is incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Richmond’s sparse narration, plus the focus on running races, ramps up the suspense as Kat’s secretive nature enables her to blend in and adopt a new life. However, this new life quickly becomes more than she can handle, enticing her to strap on her running shoes and get out of town fast. She’s a young woman who’s budding college life is cut short, and she turns to the only activity — running — that gives her solace to escape. A vegan in a town of tree huggers and other like-minded nature and running enthusiasts, Kat is at home and relatively at peace. However, the rivalry between Roman and Alex and their secrets threaten to disturb the tenuous life she’s starting to build.
“Since I was eight years old I’ve been a runner. Not a jogger. A runner. I was always the fastest girl I knew, and, during junior high, was faster than any boy I knew. I ran cross-country in high school and I won state during my junior year. A scholarship to a major college seemed all but inevitable until my dad backed the car up over my left foot the summer before my senior year. It’s funny how quickly dreams can be crushed. Just as easily as my left foot.” (page 3)
Like many other young adult novels on the market, Out of Breath has a touch of the paranormal — vampires and ghosts — but there is an unexpected twist here. Vampires are actually dangerous, and certain vampires have quirky eating habits. The ghosts play more of a role in the latter pages, and likely even more of a role in the other two planned books for the trilogy. Yes, this is the first in a series — a series that focuses on nature, saving the environment, and vegan/vegetarianism. Although the vegan/environmental angle can be heavy handed at times when Roman and Kat converse, it serves a purpose for the plot and can be overlooked by readers that may feel as though Kat is preaching to them.
Out of Breath by Blair Richmond is an eerie novel that takes a look at the consequences of our actions and how we cannot right the wrongs of the past, but only strive to change our futures. Readers will enjoy the mix of paranormal, young adult coming of age story, romance, and suspense mixed with a theme of environmental conservation and appreciation. Even better is that unlike other trilogies, Richmond’s novel does not leave the reader with a major cliffhanger, but provides a modicum of resolution and leaves the reader with a stronger version of Kat. An intriguing mix of themes and characters that creates a mystical world in the forest anchored in the reality of today’s environmental concerns.
About the Author:
Blair Richmond is the pen name of a writer living in the Northwest, where OUT OF BREATH is set. She is currently working on THE GHOST RUNNER, the second book in the trilogy featuring Kat and the mysterious town of Lithia.
This is my 60th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.