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The Place Between Breaths


The Place Between Breaths

THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS is Michael L. Printz Award-winning author An Na’s latest work. You may know her from her other novels: A STEP FROM HEAVEN, WAIT FOR ME and THE FOLD. THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS is a suspenseful, beautiful, poetic novel about one family’s search for a cure for schizophrenia and one girl’s battle with the disease herself.

Many years ago, Grace King’s mother left her and her father in fear that she would hurt them. Grace’s mother struggled with schizophrenia, and it has become her father’s mission to find a cure for the disease that has tortured his family. Grace’s father became a recruiter at a top lab near Chicago, working to bring together the best and brightest to find a cure for the disease and save his wife if she is ever found. Grace interns at the lab, Genentium, after school, working hard to make a breakthrough in the genetic code. Eventually, Grace discovers something that could be just what she, and everyone else, is looking for. However, not everything is working out, Grace is beginning to fall apart and can tell that she too might be suffering from the very disease she is trying to cure.

"An Na is able to capture Grace’s devastating spiral and her family’s heartbreaking story in a wonderfully poetic way."

THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS kept me on my toes and interested the entire time. There are plenty of twists and turns (it did get confusing a couple of times, but for the most part they were well done) and the writing itself is beautiful. An Na is able to capture Grace’s devastating spiral and her family’s heartbreaking story in a wonderfully poetic way. The writing style is one of the most important and best aspects of this novel, as the very structure of it is what allows the reader to truly see all that is happening right alongside the protagonist (and to see what is and is not real). Even though it is a short book and a quick read, Na is able to masterfully craft the story from beginning to end and keep the reader interested even though there is not a traditional plot.

While the characters themselves are not a major focus in THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS because the focus of the novel is on Grace King and her struggle with schizophrenia, the characters that exist are certainly well-written. I was able to learn so much about the characters based simply on little quirks or habits the author described, even though I did not see much of the characters other than Grace. The dedication of Grace’s father to finding a cure for schizophrenia is clearly shown in the way others talk about him. Grace herself is also very well-crafted and through flashbacks into her past, I was able to figure out a lot about what makes her doing certain things and behave in certain ways. Other secondary characters are also well-written, small descriptive details are able to tell the reader a lot of information about many of the characters. This allows for a full cast of characters, with the focus still remaining on Grace’s unraveling.

THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS is incredibly beautiful, heartbreaking and interesting. An Na has written a wonderful novel with characters you are really able to care about. It is definitely a heavier book, so if you are looking for some light reading this is not the book for you, but anyone who is a fan suspenseful, psychological type books would certainly enjoy THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS.

Reviewed by Ansley K., Teen Board Member on April 25, 2018

The Place Between Breaths
by An Na