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Book Review: “Out of Breath” by Blair Richmond

By Piper Hoffman — October 14, 2011

A teenager on the run (sort of literally – she is a competitive runner) from mysterious pursuers hides out in a small town, where she quickly finds herself being wooed by one suave and charming carnivore and one kind and generous vegan. Hmm, which to choose, which to choose.

I’m loving this book already.

Out of Breath (Ashland Creek Press, 2011) leaves many questions open, keeping readers on the hook until the second volume in the planned trilogy — which I would read even without the unresolved issues because the first book is such good fun. Not that it is a light read — a tragic death haunts our heroine, Kat, who believes she could have prevented it. Her pursuers may catch up to her at any time. She is penniless. Plus, could it be that the idyllic little town is full of…dum dum dum…vampires?

In this young adult novel, author Blair Richmond weaves together the seemingly incompatible themes of vampirism (in other words, killing and consuming sentient beings) and veganism (not doing that) in a tale that explores the moral implications of what we eat and how we treat the environment along with the more traditional literary themes of romance, friendship, and the inescapability of one’s past. All this in a compulsively readable story that includes scenes ripped from my life:

I hadn’t noticed when we walked in that this is a steakhouse. I can see on the menu that there is seafood, too. But as I scan the menu looking for a vegan option, or even something vegetarian, I see nothing. Nothing but the house salad and a couple of side dishes.It’s actually not a problem to order a salad, with a side of roasted potatoes or Swiss chard, but of course even the vegetables are probably slathered in butter. … But what gets me is that no one ever thinks about the fact that vegans like to eat good food, too, that we don’t just eat lettuce and hemp granola.

To that I say amen. She’ll be hungry again before she even leaves the table. I am reminded that I am blessed to live in the age of Veganomicon and in the glorious city of Blossom, Candle 79, Red Bamboo, and a horde of other yummy restaurants that would never leave me eating a dry salad with a side of salad. At least Kat has the local food co-op, which keeps her fed and keeps kind generous vegan guy employed.

“Out of Breath” by Blair Richmond

For all its charms, Out of Breath is a bit predictable. But knowing what would happen never stopped me from tearing through the book until it did happen, and how it happened was always a surprise.

Fittingly, this tale of blood and the supernatural (and don’t forget the tasty love triangle) will celebrate its debut on Halloween. Visit the publisher’s blog all day on October 31 to sign up for book giveaways, join a Q&A with Richmond, and read the latest reviews. If you need another reason to buy this book, for the rest of the month until midnight on Halloween, Out of Breath is available for just $2.99 on Kindle.

Learn more about reviewer Piper Hoffman

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