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K-12 Evaluated Resource Collection

Learning to Breathe

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Author/Publisher/Website: Mather, J. L.
Copyright: 2018
Evaluation/Record Entry Date: May/2019
Submitting suppliers/Website: Not Available
Primary Identifier: 9781534406018
Recommended Grades and Subjects/Courses: 10-12
(View recommended grades and subjects) English Language Arts

Resource Description

Sixteen-year-old Indy is sexually assaulted by her cousin and her mother sends her away to live with an aunt and cousins where she must go to a different school and face the circumstances of her pregnancy. She makes friends with the son of a yoga retreat’s owner and ends up working at the retreat, where his mom supports and helps Indy when she decides to keep the baby. This fast-paced, coming-of-age story for grades 10-12 is set in the Bahamas, deals with issues of substance abuse, sexual assault, mental health, identity, resilience, dysfunctional families, trust, and relationships, and is suitable as an independent or literature circle novel or to support a thematic study of sexual exploitation.

CURRICULUM FIT

Does the resource support BC curriculum?
Extensively
Comments:
This text supports the English Language Arts 10-12, Communication 11-12, and Social Justice 12 curriculum. It illuminates the Big Idea that the exploration of text and story deepens our understanding of diverse, complex ideas about identity, others and the world. It also supports that texts are socially, culturally, geographically, and historically constructed. The causes of social injustice are complex and have lasting impacts on society. The novel focuses on the life of a teen and the socio-economic circumstances and family dynamics that shape her identity.

SOCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Gender Roles, Identity & Sexual Orientation:
Indy is portrayed as a lost, scared pregnant teenage girl who is searching to find her identity: "You sleep around like ya mummy?" Some characters fall into negative portrayals of gender roles. Indy's aunt tells her, "You want sleep out like big woman, you out." "Y'all women coldhearted..."
Violence:
When Indy tries to get away from her attacker, she says, "When I try to scream his hand covers my mouth." "I can't move, I can only think of how I'm letting it happen, letting someone take advantage..." "Don't cross me again," Gary warns. A finger presses into my neck. Smiley says, "Ma'am, it was my brother, he attacked me cause he thought I was her..."
Ethical:
Churchy takes Indy to an abortion clinic and gives Indy cash, "...the wad of money Churchy's taken from the cash register at the restaurant." He also insists that Indy lie about her age, "Put nineteen." Indy uses her mother's name for the abortion form. Indy says to Gary, "If I have it, I'll do a paternity test, and everybody will know."
Language:
Sexual innuendos and slang are used in this novel. Gary's choice of words is condescending and vicious. Gary says to Indy, "You crave trouble like a fatty crave ice cream, ay?" Some of the language includes words such as slut, etc.
Do the social considerations support, rather than detract from, student learning?
Moderately
Social Considerations Comments:
The social considerations support student learning. This novel examines how substance abuse and mental health contribute to family dysfunction. The portrayal of violence and gender stereotyping and slang is used for character expression and story clarity. This novel reveals how sexual abuse alters the life of an innocent victim.

GENERAL CONTENT

Content
Is the resource engaging?
Moderately
Is the content current for the intended curriculum and grade?
Moderately
Is the content accurate for the intended curriculum and grade?
Moderately
Is the content timely and important for student broad understandings?
Moderately
This resource supports the characteristics of Aboriginal worldviews and perspectives:
Emphasis on Identity
Audience:
Is the content appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Moderately
Does the resource provide opportunities for creative and critical thinking?
Extensively
Is the level of detail appropriate?
Moderately
Is the content of particular interest to male students?
Moderately
Is the content of particular interest to female students?
Moderately
Is the language use appropriate to the emotional maturity and cognitive level of students?
Moderately
Comments:
This novel examines the consequences of substance abuse, sexual abuse, and trust and relationship issues.

TECHNICAL DESIGN

Does the resource make effective use of the medium?
Moderately
Is the resource easy to use?
Moderately
Is the use of font, text size and presentation uniform?
Moderately
Comments:
The resource is a hardcover book that contains eighteen chapters of text.

PRINT NOVEL

Does the text show insight into the complexity of the human condition?
Extensively
Does the text broaden students’ experiences and understanding?
Extensively
Plot description:
Indy, a sixteen-year-old girl, is sexually assaulted by her aunt's older son. Indy is sent away from home by her mother to live with her aunt and cousins, attend a different school, and face the circumstances of her pregnancy. In search of her identity she takes comfort in the owner of a retreat's son and ends up working for his mom who, through her own set of life circumstances, willingly supports Indy's decision to keep her baby.
Related Comments:
This is a fast-paced and engaging novel about family dynamics, relationships, abuse, and resilience. The topic, writing, and vernacular are current and would resonate with a wide audience. The character descriptions are vivid, relatable, and likable. The cover illustration and title highlight the importance of slowing down and taking time for oneself.
Genre:
Contemporary
Literary Highlights:
Well-developed themes
Point of view
Type:
Novel
Drama

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Readability:
At intended grade level(s)
Comments:
Janice Lynn Mather is the Bahamian writer of the novel, "Learning to Breathe." This book was named one of BN Teen's Most Anticipated Contemporaries of 2018.

SUGGESTED CLASSROOM USAGE

Comments:
This novel could be used as an independent novel or as part of a literature circle. Teachers could use it as a thematic study on sexual exploitation.
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