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The Air You Breathe Summary and Reviews

The Air You Breathe

by Frances de Pontes Peebles

The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles X
The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2018
    464 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride - and each woman's fear that she would be nothing without the other.

Some friendships, like romance, have the feeling of fate.

Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music.

One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes - and haunt their memories.

Traveling from Brazil's inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Rio de Janeiro's famous Lapa neighborhood, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship - its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses - and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Peebles' detailed and atmospheric story is cinematic in scope, panoramic in view, and lyrical in tone." - Kirkus

"The action often slows to a plodding pace, and Peebles is prone to prosaic explanations of the characters' evolving relationship. Despite this, Dores's reflections on love, music, envy, and loyalty ache with feeling, and a hint of mystery surrounding the central relationship's dissolution will keeps readers intrigued until the end." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers who are not daunted by the novel's length will be rewarded with complex characters and a well-realized setting." - Booklist

"A masterfully choreographed saga of friendship, envy, sacrifice and love - as soulful, layered, and intoxicating as the samba that reverberates from the page." – Georgia Hunter, New York Times-bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones

"The Air You Breathe is that kind of fairy tale where the curse is that your dreams come true, and keep coming true, and you have to survive it for the rest of your life. Two girls run after their dreams of samba, stardom, friendship, and art, and the result is this glittering, mesmerizing triumph of a novel." – Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night

"A glittering, beautiful story full of romance and intrigue and tragedy… hard to put down." – Anton DiSclafani, New York Times-bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

"I was captivated by this narrator's voice - wise with years of secrets, disappointments, and burning proximity to so much heat and light. And what a story she has to tell: an aching reminiscence of lives entwined by music, friendship, and longing. Vivid and unforgettable." - Laura Moriarty, New York Times-bestselling author of The Chaperone

"Prepare to lose yourself in this sweeping, lush novel about two girls in 1920s Brazil brought together by circumstance and kept together by love - of song, of success, and, in the end, of each other. As rich and complex and moving as music itself." – Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

"Sweeps you up like a fairytale, and although the characters are deep and real, the story keeps its breathless magic to the end, with transformations and journeys and bonds as entrancing as Graça and Dores themselves. An ambitious and consuming novel." – Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers

"A luxuriant, lovely, utterly delicious book. It will transport you to a world that is half-magical, half-historical, deeply familiar, and wholly new. I couldn't put it down." – Abby Geni, author of The Lightkeepers

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Author Information

Frances de Pontes Peebles

Frances de Pontes Peebles is the author of the novel The Seamstress, which was translated into nine languages and won the Elle Grand Prix for fiction, the Friends of American Writers Award, and the James Michener-Copernicus Society of America Fellowship. Born in Pernambuco, Brazil, she is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

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