In this debut novel, a girl named Lorrie strikes up a friendship with her strange new neighbor Sylvie in a remote Scottish town. The two young women are drawn into a series of events that leave the small town wondering who exactly Sylvie is and what strange gift she is hiding.
Angela Readman’s Something like Breathing pairs nuanced observations with an atmospheric setting to tell an evocative story of growing up with a secret ... Secret love affairs, deep-seated regrets and yearnings for comfort, fears that shape the course of relationships: these are all made painfully plain to the reader, while astute Lorrie misses them even as she describes the world around her in her own words. This painstakingly rendered, gorgeous novel is pervaded by a sense of tense mystery while maintaining a close narrative distance. Something like Breathing is a skilled and beautiful portrait of a wonderful gift masked as darkness.
Readman’s novel starts with a whimper and ends with a bang. During the slow-paced opening sections we could be forgiven for thinking this is a gentle rose-tinted tale of cozy camaraderie and adolescent escapades. But as Readman expands, she casts shadows over the lives of her two main characters and highlights the trials, quandaries and agonies of the adults around them ... Beautifully bittersweet, this first novel is a rich evocation of youth and a joyous celebration of individuality.
...slightly off-kilter strangeness ... Something Like Breathing isn’t as obviously bizarre as some of [Readman's] shorter fiction, but it still carries with it the whisper of weirdness. It couldn’t accurately be described as magical realism, but it is a book in which strange, unexplained things happen. Readman is less interested in whys and wherefores, instead her focus is on how her characters negotiate what they encounter ... Though the narrative has a slightly unsteady flow—the revelation about Sylvie seems a little too long in coming to the fore—Readman weaves a fascinating and decidedly original fairytale.