People call Indira "Doubles," insisting she's the double of her mother, a woman who "smells rotten" and who always has a new boyfriend. "I'm her Double," Indy thinks, fearing that she will, in fact, be "[t]he thing, the person, everyone expects [her] to become." Indy, who has always lived at her Grammy's small house in Mariner's Cay, is sent to Nassau Harbour to live with her Aunt Patrice to finish high school. Shortly after her arrival, Aunt Patrice's son, Gary, begins sneaking into the living room where she sleeps to rape her. Her heartbreaking abuse is even more devastating in light of her fear; Indy doesn't dare come forward about the rapes for fear of proving to others that she is her mother's double. When Indy realizes she's pregnant, there's only one place she can go for advice: a book Grammy gave her when she left. But it seems even Grammy believes Indy is her mother's double: "There's no picture on the cover, only its title: The Pregnancy Book." Indy can't hide this pregnancy forever, but if Grammy didn't even believe in her, how could anyone else?
Learning to Breathe, Janice Lynn Mather's debut, is a raw and unflinching look at coming of age while dealing with trauma and the expectations of others. Mather's delicate handling of the abuse is purposeful, and there are multiple emotionally painful scenes that some readers will find challenging. Intermittent scenes of Indy learning various yoga poses and becoming increasingly balanced, both physically and metaphorically, are hopeful, rounding out a story that is emotionally charged, thought provoking and unforgettable. --Kyla Paterno, former YA and children's book buyer