The Air We Breathe, Hanna is a normal 11-year-old girl, enjoying a morning of errands with her daddy, until their routine trip to the bank becomes a tragedy. Claire also knows tragedy, having lost her children in a horrific accident, and having lost her marriage in the aftermath. Both woman and girl feel responsible for their loss, and find some sort of connection in each other. Can they help each other heal? What will happen to Claire when Hanna disappears again?
When I started this book, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish. The transitions between points of view of different characters, and then shifting of time between a 2002 storyline and a 2009 storyline made it difficult to feel part of the characters' lives. As the story filled in, however, and the connections between the points of view became clearer, I became fully ensconced in the characters' lives and hopeful for their healing. I especially loved the point where Claire realized that while, all along, she'd thought that she was the one helping Hanna, she also needed Hanna to help her.
There are very dark aspects to this story, and I do not recommend it lightly without a word of caution. What happened to Hanna, and the tragedy that Claire suffered, are enough to make you want to deadbolt your door and keep your children inside as long as you can. But as Hanna and Claire both learned, there is no healing or growth in that, only fear.
I have a couple of minor, picky issues with some little things along the way in the story, but they're more suitable for discussing with someone else who's read it. And they certainly did not spoil the story as a whole. As a whole, I surprised myself by giving this book 4 stars. There is so much depth to the characters and so much to learn from their journey to true faith and healing that I think this book will stick with me for awhile. One specific moment from Hanna's life was especially poignant: "She asked herself sometimes why He didn't answer her prayers like that anymore, with immediacy, with clarity and theatrics. And then she answered her own question. She had stopped expecting Him to. Without realizing it, [Hanna] had convinced herself she was only allowed one miracle. She'd used up her allotment and didn't deserve any more."
I, for one, am grateful and blessed that that isn't the way God works.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.