Oh. My. Goodness. Drawing Breath (such a brilliant title) certainly drew mine—it left me breathless and quite speechless. Without any doubt at all, this is my book of the year. If I’m honest, after reading Laurie’s first novel, The Joke’s On Me, I don’t think I expected anything other than near perfection, but this was simply outstanding.
Daniel Benedetto is a 34-year-old art teacher suffering from cystic fibrosis, and Caitlin is his landlady’s daughter and his private pupil. She is 16 and hopelessly in love with him. She aches for him as only a 16-year-old can. But buried in this adolescent love is a certain maturity: she cares for him like she thinks no other woman can and loves him unconditionally; she worries about him when he is unwell, she understands his needs, she understands he doesn’t need to be pitied, she understands when he needs help. She just understands. Everything she does for him is for him.
Every word of this novel is like it has been carefully and precisely selected: a myriad of emotions bursts out of it along with courage, pathos, tragedy, heartache, tenderness, and true, true love: that of a teenager, of a sister, and of a lover. You ache for Daniel every time he coughs and splutters, you ache for Caitlin who wants to envelop Daniel in her love, not out of pity, but for the genuine admiration and passion she has for his courage, his skill, and his very being. You ache for Daniel’s sister who has cared and nurtured her sick brother for years. You just ache.
This novel is as heart-warming as it is heart-wrenching. It burrows into every fibre of your body and soul and stays there.
Oh hell, I just can’t think of enough of the right words to describe this superb novel. Congratulations, Laurie, a superlative novel.