Sunday 16 September 2012

Out of Breath

I have been listening to 'Out of Breath' by Julie Myerson. Some years ago I read 'Something Might Happen' and really enjoyed it and then I reviewed another of her books, The Story of You, back in 2009. Out of Breath has something in common with it because in both there is a slightly surreal situation, even though it is apparently in the real world, and then you realise it is unreal and events are the imaginary creation of the protagonists needs and desires. In Story of You it was a grieving mother, in Out of Breath it is a young girl, Flynn, who meets Alex at the bottom of her garden. In a moment of crisis she and her brother Sam leave home and find themselves caught up in the fate of a little gang of runaways, Alex, Mouse, Diana and the newborn baby Joey. And so Flynn's wild imagination creates a safe haven for them to live in while they hide from the threats of the real world, complete with fresh bread and milk, a waterfall, nappies for the baby and knickers for Mouse. But it turns out she cannot really escape her fears and vulnerability and gradually the real world works its way back in. 

I liked the audiobook very much because the reader's voice was so well chosen. She sounds young, as if she really is a teenager confiding her strange adventure to you. The story is written in the present tense so you live the events and get caught up with her feelings, about the situation, about her absent father and about Alex. It is a very multi-sensory story, often focussing on scents, smells and tastes, and very absorbed into the immediacy of events. And it is a very adolescent story, the need to be in a situation that is free from adult/parental authority or interference is important. Young people need a chance to fall back on their own resources and from that situation are forced to gain some new perspective. It had some rather overly neat resolutions but I don't think that that was really important, it was about the process of being inside the mind of Flynn and watching her thought processes unfold. As I listened I quickly realised that I have also read this book years ago, but I enjoyed the process of listening to it, quite a different experience.

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