Author: Laekan Zea Kemp
Date of Publication: September 30th, 2013
Formats Available: E-book
Buy This Book: Amazon
Synopsis: She is a winding cosmos, bleeding and bursting into night. She is a dream. She is dead.
River has just lost the one thing that matters most to him—Nia—and all she's left behind is a pile of scribbled love notes detailing their past and a pin-holed map planning out their future. Hopes and dreams confined to one dimension now that she's gone and River’s too afraid to leave his hometown, crippled by the same anxiety that’s plagued his mother for as long as he can remember.
But after a strange encounter with the only girl he ever loved a week after laying her to rest, River, armed with nothing but her map and his memories, decides to finally leave and never look back. And with the help of a pair of eccentrically named siblings as well as a mutt with three legs, he sets out to do the very thing Nia always knew how to do better than he ever could—live.
From the moonlit beaches off of Florida's east coast, to the forests of Mississippi, to Bourbon Street, Cadillac Ranch, and the Arizona desert, River is faced with not only Nia's ghost but his own and he learns that in life there are no accidents, only miracles.
I hadn't been expecting to like Breathing Ghosts nearly as much as I did. Tragic and emotionally charged this novel wasn't an easy read but at the same time it was a thought provoking one. It's hard to put into words how special this novel was, something about it really stood out to me and by the end of the novel I felt like I had changed somehow. I could't quite put my finger on what made this novel was great as it was, maybe it was the characters, or the fantastic writing, but what I do know is that this is one novel that I won't be forgetting any time soon.
Let me start off by saying that Breathing Ghosts is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Kemp has such a haunting and beautiful writing style it was nearly impossible for me not to be drawn into the story and characters. I loved how the novel alternated between the past and the present and, even though she was dead, I loved being able to see glimpses of Nia and what made River fall in love with her. I could sense the relationship between River and Nia and that was part of what made the story so great, instead of fading into the background as the "girlfriend who died" she played an active role in the story. I could see pieces of her shining throughout the novel even though she wasn't there in the parts of the novel that took place in the present.
I've always loved books about road trips and Kemp did a fantastic job with this one. The thing I loved most is that instead of going to well known places or touristy locations River found himself in run down cities and hidden away diners. Each of the locations River found himself in was not only original but had a meaning behind it. Even though he was chasing the idea of Nia all over the country he discovered more and more about himself as the continued on the trip.
Even though River wasn't one of the easiest characters to relate to I think that was part of what made him the perfect protagonist for the story. He had a tendency to close himself off from everyone and after Nia's death he not only discovers more about himself but he opens himself up to others. River wasn't my favorite person, he did a lot of things that I wouldn't have done and things that made me want to scream at him, but that was part of what made the story so amazing. Watching him change, but in a sense still remain the same, throughout the course of the novel, despite everything he went through, was fascinating.
Breathing Ghosts is far from my usual genre but at the same time there was something about it that just really clicked with me. I highly recommend this novel to fans of tragic romances and contemporary fiction. Unforgettable and thought provoking this is a novel that I know I will be returning to.