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Breath (2010)

Breath (2010)
3.74 of 5 Votes: 5
068986177X (ISBN13: 9780689861772)
simon pulse
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Breath (2010)
Breath (2010)

About book: Full Review: good book makes me feel the whole gamut of emotions: joy, sorrow, anger, frustration, and shock. A great book does all that, but it also keeps me thinking long after I’ve turned the last past. Breath didn’t have the most engaging plotline or amazing characters, but it had some fascinating things to say about health and illness, disability and heroism, faith and hypocrisy.I know Donna Jo Napoli for her fairytale re-tellings. I really liked Beast and I’ve got Sirena waiting on my to-read shelf. I’m a huge sucker for fairytales, so when I realized Breath was a retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin (one of the more chilling fairytales) and might possibly have something to do with the plague (a subject I find morbidly riveting), I grabbed it without a second thought. Then I realized I had a disability topic in my hands.Salz suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, something that should have killed him long before, but among the medieval remedies his grandmother dosed him with were some potent pieces of wisdom which kept him alive. Someone suffering from Cystic Fibrosis today wouldn’t necessarily do a hand stand every time they start coughing, but the acrobatics helped Salz clear his lungs and breathe easier.I loved how intertwined the perceptions of health and illness were in this book. Salz is sick. Really sick. Sick enough that everyone’s surprised he’s still alive and Salz himself hesitates to make plans for his future. His illness is met with derogatory reactions not unexpected in this time period. His family thinks he’s useless, his grandmother is the only one who shows any affection toward him, and when it comes down to a choice between Salz’s life or his older brother’s, his family chooses to throw him under the metaphorical bus without a second thought.But in the end the Cystic Fibrosis protects him from the disease that ravages the rest of the town. It saves his life even as it threatens to kill him. And of course, being “healthy” puts him at risk again when the townspeople accuse him of being the source of the disease through witchcraft.There was such an interesting give and take between being healthy and being sick. Salz’s weakness is what keeps him from leaving with the children when the piper demands his due, but it is what leaves him healthy enough to go after them. So the invalid becomes the hero. The line between disabled and enabled blurs.I read this with the disability and illness themes in mind, but already, I know that it deserves a re-read. I want to go back and look at how Napoli handled faith and hypocrisy as well. I caught a glimpse of them out of the corner of my eye as I barreled through and I can’t wait to revisit them.

This is a story of the Pied Piper only told from the point of view of the lame boy (Salz) who could not keep up when all the other children were charmed out of town. Most of the story is the build up to the Pied Piper’s visit, and concern Salz’s struggle to stay alive despite his many physical afflictions, and an abusive older brother. While Salz’s life is a struggle he does not wallow in self-pity, instead he struggles to learn all he can about nature, God, and life in general. Then nature seems to turn against the farmers and townspeople. The grazing animals become sick and begin to die off, then the people become stricken with a strange sort of madness. Then rats invaded in large numbers; more rats than anyone can remember seeing. This is a really good story, and I finished it in two days. Although classified as a young adult novel, I think anyone who enjoys medieval fiction will enjoy this book.
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Absolutely beautiful! This is honestly one of my favorite retellings of the Pied Piper. I love how it follows the POV of an ill boy named Salz, whose life is... pretty much a nightmare. After reading this, I'm glad I live in a time period where these sicknesses are treatable and preventable. I can't imagine the horror these people must have gone through back in the day when this happened, and this book really shows those horrors well.All of the characters were really good too! They felt real and believable, even in their madness. Gosh, the way how everyone went bonkers was horrifyingly creepy. Family killing family, random people having sex with each other in the streets, (YES, YOU HEARD ME) and other crazy things... Despite all these mature subjects, the author manages to keep the morbid scenes at a PG 13 level, by not going into huge details about them. :) I love how she did that!I definitely recommend this. The ending is a bit sad though. (More like bittersweet I guess. IT'S STILL GOOD, OK?!)
This is a pretty decent retelling of the Pied Piper of Hameln story done in the usual Donna Jo Napoli style. One thing really annoys me about this book though and that is that the back cover blurb gives away what could be an interesting mystery which I'm guessing the author didn't intend to be made clear from the beginning. Not only that, the back of the book gets it wrong which makes the story slightly confusing. Whoever wrote the blurb apparently didn't read the book. The bottom line is that you are better off not reading the back of the book or the Goodreads description which is copied from it. Just cover it up with duct tape so you aren't even tempted.
Nancy Chaffin
Salz is a young boy who lives with his father, brothers, and grandmother on a farm outside of the medieval town of Hameln. He has cystic fibrosis and suffers from coughing attacks that threaten his life. The plot thickens as the community is threatened with rats and a plague that afflicts the livestock and the people. Salz and his grandmother belong to a coven and they try to stop the plague with a particularly powerful spell which doesn't make any difference. This is a very powerful story of the Pied Piper told from Salz’ perspective. Napoli does a masterful job of drawing the reader into the story with her character development and her fast paced narrative. I didn’t like the burial scene – I thought it was too graphic; however, I would be interested in reading another Napoli book.
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