Excerpt from The Place Between Breaths by An Na, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Place Between Breaths

by An Na

The Place Between Breaths by An Na X
The Place Between Breaths by An Na
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2018, 192 pages
    Mar 2019, 192 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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There are many versions of a story. Many sides and lenses that can distort, change, illuminate what is seen and unseen. What is heard and unheard. What is felt and unfelt. In the end, truth is but a facet of a diamond, a spark of ray from the sun, a forget-me-not flower seen from the eyes of a bee. What lives and breathes as reality is a perception, so who is to say what is possible and impossible?

Call it fate or simply coincidence, but the shorter version of how I found you begins like this. There was a dark speck on the side of the barren winter road that grew larger and larger as I drove closer. Expanding from a dot to a stone to a tree stump until I screeched to a halt. A few dozen feet away from a headless coat turtle-shelled on top of the snow. Both of my hands released the steering wheel and coned over my mouth. Was it a body? There was no movement. I slowly opened the door and stepped out. Had someone frozen and died overnight? It wouldn't have been the first time that something like that happened around here. I took a step forward, and then another, the fragile crack of ice and gravel rippling through me. My breath misted before my face.

A head emerged.

I shouted in fright. "You scared the hell out of me!" A large vapor cloud formed as I exhaled long and slow.

Your disheveled black hair framed your face, petite, round. It was hard to tell how old you were, but something about your eyes told me you were older than you looked.

Slowly unfurling each limb as though in pain, you stood up.

I walked forward in relief.

"You looked like a dead body."

Your brows gathered as you lifted and dropped your shoulders before bowing your head slightly. "Sorry."

Then a brief wave of your hand and you started walking down the side of the road.

"Do you need a ride?" I called to your back. You stopped. "I'm on my way to town," I said.

You gazed back, your eyes roaming my face before you turned and kept walking down the long cold road. Away from me.

* * *

That is the short version of how we met. You didn't tell me then why you were so tired that you had to rest hiding inside your coat by the side of the road, but since then, after meeting again, you have shared a few of your truths. The longer story of us is like the horizon. We can only know what we see, and all that we wish we could understand is beyond vision.

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Excerpted from The Place Between Breaths by An Na. Copyright © 2018 by An Na. Excerpted by permission of Atheneum Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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