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Publisher's Summary

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.

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 Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, 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 masterfully choreographed saga of friendship, envy, sacrifice and love - as soulful, layered, and intoxicating as the samba that reverberates from the page." (Georgia Hunter, New York Times best-selling author of We Were the Lucky Ones)
 

"A glittering, beautiful story full of romance and intrigue and tragedy...hard to put down." (Anton DiSclafani, New York Times best-selling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls)

"The Air You Breathe is that kind of fairy tale where the curse is that your dreams come true, and keep coming true, and you have to survive it for the rest of your life. Two girls run after their dreams of samba, stardom, friendship, and art, and the result is this glittering, mesmerizing triumph of a novel." (Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night)

What members say

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Unsubtle and whiny

I can’t stand to continue listening to what seems to be an unending litany of vague and pitiful mewings with no reality attached—drones on and on. I get it already: something really tragic happened and is so terrible we have to be prepped. But 1) get on with the details so at least we know what to be upset about, and 2) leaven the tragedy-porn with bits of light so one knows this tale has something to offer ultimately. Why would I keep reading if just to hear some sad sack tale with no redemption or hope or lessons hinted at to keep me going. Ugh.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful