The Air You Breathe

A Novel
Narrated by: Rebecca Mozo
Length: 16 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (304 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"[A] glorious, glittery saga of friendship and loss.... I read The Air You Breathe in two nights. (One might say I inhaled it.)." (NPR)

"Echoes of Elena Ferrante resound in this sumptuous saga." (O, The Oprah Magazine)

"Enveloping...Peebles understands the shifting currents of female friendship, and she writes so vividly about samba that you close the book certain its heroine's voices must exist beyond the page." (People)

The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride - and each woman's fear that she would be nothing without the other.

Some friendships, like romance, have the feeling of fate.

Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music. One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and, for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes - and haunt their memories.

Traveling from Brazil's inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Rio de Janeiro's famous Lapa neighborhood, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship - its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses - and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.

©2018 Frances de Pontes Peebles (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[A] glorious, glittery saga of friendship and loss.... Along the way [the two main characters] acquire...total interconnectedness, the likes of which I last found in Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend.... I read The Air You Breathe in two nights. (One might say I inhaled it.).... The Air You Breathe is genuinely exciting to watch." (NPR) 

"Gorgeous.... Peebles captures the complexity of these two women forever linked by their early bonds, and she vivifies their colorful times and the nuances in their relationship as it evolves over the decades." (The National Book Review)

“Peebles presents a captivating...portrait of friendship...[the book’s] reflections on love, music, envy, and loyalty ache with feeling, and a hint of mystery surrounding the central relationship’s dissolution will keep readers intrigued until the end.” (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about The Air You Breathe

Average Customer Ratings
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Review of The Air You Breathe

A very engrossing story. It takes you to another time, country and way of life. It’s a story full of everything. Narrator’s voice is rich and engaging.

3 people found this helpful

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I tried to like it

This book needed a better editor...it went on and on and on. The two women were not likeable. One a spoiled manipulative brat and the other exceedingly violent. It started out w/promise and fizzled quickly. I am looking at all the good reviews this book has received and I have no idea why.

1 person found this helpful

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Speed up narration and enjoy much more

The reader over-emphasizes every line so that each note is high drama. She improves markedly about half way through. But I also discovered that putting the narration on 1.5 speed worked to decrease the melodrama somehow. Kind of amazing actually. Once the speed went up, the dramatic pauses quit wrecking a wonderfully complex story of love and art.

7 people found this helpful

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Lyrical

Stunning masterpiece! How can words do justice to complex, soul-stirring music, & depth of characters capture your heart? This book is a miracle of that genius.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderfully written and narrated!

As I listened to this wonderful book I was transformed to another century in another culture. The story was interesting, uncomfortable, happy and tragic. What more could a reader want? I did want one more thing—to hear the songs sung instead of the words spoken. That would have been the icing on a memorable cake. Brava Ms. de Pontes Peebles and Ms. Mozo!!!

1 person found this helpful

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One of the most beautifully written novels I’ve listened to in awhile

Peebles took me on a breathtaking, heartbreaking, visceral journey of the heart and land. So much history I did not know of Brazil but also a rich, moving story of music, friendship, deep love, and deeper guilt, yet redemption. And Rebecca Mozo's narration carried me away in each scene-- I felt, heard, saw what she did as each character.

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Great story

Great story, beautifully written , but the narrator spoke way too fast. I couldn’t absorb and become one with the story because it moved at a comical pace. Almost like a radio advertisement where they speak as fast as possible to get everything in. What a shame. It really is a masterpiece when read, I’m sure, but on Audible it was hard to listen to.

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Lyrical Masterpiece

I feel that I did not just read this book, I moved into it! it pulled me in and took me to a different time and place. When it ended, I so missed the characters!

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Incredible!

This story was so amazing! Never a dull moment and really captures the complexity of a close female friendship, When friends become like sisters. The narrator’s voice was perfect for this book! I’ve never loved a narrator’s voice more than this one. I loved being immersed in Brazil culture and music. It was a fun, thoroughly enjoying, story! I’m sad that it ended

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Extremely boring and way to long

This is a book that should have never been written, it lacks depth and the story is just plain stupid. I waited until the last minutes for it to get interesting, it never did. I listened to the audible version, the narrator draws out the names every time she says them, I had to change the speed to 2 times so that I could stand listening to it. I only finished this book because it’s a book club pick. I wish I could get the 16 hours and 41 minutes back that I wasted on this stupid book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-12-20

Love this book

I loved the story of friendship and all it’s complications. The narrator was amazing. Was sad when the story ended.