Breathe Deep & Swim

Young Adult - Coming of Age
160 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite

As we try to normalize ourselves during this COVID pandemic, there is so much going on behind the scenes; hunger, abuse, loneliness, and death. One day, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Thomas found his dad dead in his bed due to COVID complications. While he didn't know what to do, he knew that his brother, Vincent Van Gogh Thomas, would. Van Gogh always has a plan. Even if the plans are never carefully thought out and quick off the mark, Wolfgang knows that he can trust his brother. Van Gogh has always taken care of things ever since they were little kids. Since their dad has passed, now all they have is each other. As minors, they must do whatever they can to stay together and out of the foster care system. Where can they go? Who can they turn to for help? Should they look for their mother? Where do they start in looking for her?

I loved Breathe Deep & Swim by Jenna Marcus and want to share it with the world. I visualized Breathe Deep & Swim as a movie because it has so many layers of where we are in today's society. This book speaks of hope, innocence, and challenges from the perspectives of teenagers. Myth, media sensation, fake news, and no masks are all associated with the COVID pandemic because there are some people that don't believe that this illness exists, even on their deathbed. I loved how the author was able to interweave so many current nuances as a backdrop to tell the story. In the era of the COVID pandemic, we're seeing things like never before and we each have decisions to make. "You just need to breathe deep and swim until you find the shore," says Jenna Marcus. Highly recommended.

Amy Powers

Breathe Deep & Swim by Jenna Marcus is a young adult thriller that presents us with contemporary issues that today's teens can easily relate to, given the current pandemic. Wolfgang and Van Gogh's father has COVID-19, but he refuses to seek treatment or admit that it's serious. When the two brothers find him dead in his bedroom, they have to quickly develop a plan to prevent themselves from entering the foster system. Wolfgang has no choice but to trust his older brother's plan to track down their mother in New York. With limited funds and only a brief head start before someone finds their father and knows that they are missing, Wolfgang and Van Gogh set off on a journey up the east coast from Florida. Their future is uncertain after living with this unpredictable virus that disrupted their lives.

Jenna Marcus paints a realistic picture of the lives of two teenagers and the potential fears that can be faced during these times of the pandemic. Crossing over genre lines between thriller, suspense, and coming of age, Breathe Deep & Swim is a beautiful story that portrays the unconditional love and trust shared between two brothers. Van Gogh has always been the older, more mature, and protective brother, but the circumstances provide Wolfgang with the opportunity to show that he can take care of his brother as well. Other social issues and family dynamics are also brought to light within the text. It is easy to become emotionally attached to the well-written characters.