Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Zea Kemp Review

Release Date: 09/13/13
Summary from Goodreads:

She is a winding cosmos, bleeding and bursting into night. She is a dream. She is dead.

River has just lost the one thing that matters most to him—Nia—
and all she’s left behind is a pile of scribbled love notes detailing
their past and a pin-holed map planning out their future.
Hopes and dreams confined to one dimension now that she’s gone and
River’s too afraid to leave his hometown, crippled by the same anxiety
that’s plagued his mother for as long as he can remember.

But after a strange encounter with the only girl he ever loved
a week after laying her to rest, River, armed with nothing but her map
and his memories, decides to finally leave and never look back.
And with the help of a pair of eccentrically named siblings as
well as a mutt with three legs, he sets out to do the very thing
Nia always knew how to do better than he ever could—live.

From the moonlit beaches off of Florida’s east coast, to the forests of Mississippi,
to Bourbon Street, Cadillac Ranch, and the Arizona desert,
River is faced with not only Nia’s ghost but his own and he
learns that in life there are no accidents, only miracles.

Link to Goodreads


*I received an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was absolutely beautiful. I really loved it. First of all, I’m in love with the cover of this book. I think I would have accepted it for review just based on that but the blurb really hooked me. I am a sucker for tragedies. I know, this probably makes me a little masochistic but I’ve accepted it. River has just lost the girl he loves, Nia, at the beginning of the novel. He’s pretty much paralyzed by the loss and anxiety and it begins to consume him. After River is given a box of Nia’s belongings from her sister, he awakens one night to see Nia sitting on his bedroom floor staring at her most treasured belonging, an extremely detailed map of all the places she wanted to discover. Nia then disappears as quickly as she came and River begins the journey of a lifetime. He begins to overcome the anxiety that has crippled him his entire life to follow Nia’s dream and explore all the places she will never be able to go in hopes he might see her again.

The entire premise of this story was wonderful.  It was one of the first books I’ve read where the ending wasn’t really the important aspect but rather the journey itself. The story is told through alternating past, Nia and River together before her death, and present scenes, River’s road trip. River meets some unlikely and unwelcome twins with some seriously hilarious quirks, one of those quirks being their rather interesting names, June and Carter.

Their adventures lead them to some pretty interesting places, including an inmate battle arena and a wild concert. Through their journeys River learns many things about himself; his strength, his determination, and his ability to dream. Kemp uses strong imagery to weave a beautiful and unique story that truly touches the heart. Breathing Ghosts is a story about the journey of self-discovery, learning to let go, and daring and dreaming to move on.  With wonderful and quirky characters, including a three-legged dog, Breathing Ghosts is one memorable story and I can’t wait to read more from Kemp.

The manic melody. Fluid. Wild. All of that chaos. These are the things she loved, the things she understood but I never could. I clung to my routines but Nia didn’t exist in the routine. She existed in the reckless in-between. In those free falls and spur of the moment decisions. In those late-night conversations when you’re too tired to censor a word you say. In those moments when you swallow the fear and do it anyway. When you like the way it tastes.”


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