Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Lisa T. Bergren's Breathe ~ Reviewed

By Lisa T. Bergren
Published by David C. Cook
400 Pages

Back Cover: To make a new life, she’ll have to learn how to breathe again…

By the time Dominic and Moira St. Clair get their ailing sister, Odessa, to Colorado Springs in the winter of 1883, she is nearly dead. Odessa has been seriously ailing for the past year from consumption, an illness that claimed the lives of four of her younger brothers, prompting her father to send his only surviving children west to chase the cure.

Several days after her arrival, Odessa witnesses what she fears is the murder of miner Sam O’Toole, friend and neighbor to the charming Bryce McAllan. What’s more, Sam leaves her a poem containing clues that seem to direct her to his mine, which is purported to carry a fantastic vein of silver. But if she is ever to rise from her bed again, she must first concentrate on conquering the giant that threatens her-consumption. Indeed, she must learn to breathe again-daring to embrace her life, her future, and hope in her God.

Read the first chapter


I was drawn to the characters and this time period from the very first sentence. “Odessa tried to shove back the wave of fear as the slow suffocation began.” I found myself aware of my own breathing as I read how Odessa struggle with hers. I was amazed at the fight she had in her to battled with a disease that had wiped out most of her family.

Lisa does a great job of making you quickly care for the St. Clare family. Dominic St. Clare, Odessa’s brother and Moira St. Clare, Odessa’s sister are the only siblings left in their family. The St. Clare’s father has sent them away from their home for the sole purpose of bringing their ailing sister, Odessa, to the sanitarium in Colorado Springs to be cured of the disease consumption. They are all willing to do whatever it takes to fight the curse brought to attack their family.

Odessa says this to another patient and then asks a question, “… When one recognizes death, she certainly also knows life better as well….Is this a part of finding out what it means to live, to breathe? Can I find this tiny glimmer of hope and hold on to it?”

Moira St. Clair has a bent toward theatre/stage, she says; “It’s difficult at times, being a woman. She wished she had the freedoms that men held so easily in their hands or simply the freedom to decide when and where she would spend her days. How was it that she had to now report to not one, but three men in her life? Her brother. Her beau. Her director.”

Author Lisa Bergren takes you to the 1880’s in a very real way. Through the pages of this book she reveals a time when the country was growing in the wild, wild, west. It was an eye opener to read how towns were run and how they tried to cure people back then. We’ve come a long way baby.

Lisa has given me a whole new perspective on a valued gift I often times take for granted. The gift of being able to breathe in deeply and fill my lungs with precious clean air, I also have a new view of just breathing in a beautiful landscape God has created. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to the other two stories in this series. Sing, is out in the summer of 2010, and continues the story of the St. Clair family. I can’t wait.

Reviewed by:
Nora St.Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Bonus Review:

Breathe exhales drama, adventure and the lives of three siblings as their locations and situations rise and fall within the tight four-hundred pages. A silver mine mystery, a tense, suspenseful chase, spiritual changes and growth, occupation and location changes, love and life-threatening situations abound in this page-turner.

Lisa Bergren writes a solid story and multi-dimensional characters. The scenery she paints is vivid and nearly breathtaking. History and the details of the cure for consumption in Colorado Springs are fascinating. This is the beginning of a series and it is sure to be loaded as the unfinished tales are rich for the mining.

Fans of family sagas and historicals set in the wilds of Colorado need to check this novel out.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

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