Hold Me Like a Breath: A Book Review

Posted May 18, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hold Me Like a Breath: A Book ReviewHold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Series: Once Upon a Crime Family #1
on May 19, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling, YA
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

I’m going to start by quoting Tiffany Schmidt’s Acknowledgment page: “The story is called The Princess and the Pea, yet it’s hardly about the princess at all. We never learn why she was along on a cold and stormy night. No one asks what happened to her family or if she’s okay. We’re never told why she bruises so easily, or if she wants to marry the prince. And then there was the fact that always bothered me most: Why does her ability to bruise make her desirable?…I finally sat down to write the princess’s story–because while the fairy tale may have her in the title, the story isn’t hers. Hold Me Like a Breath is my way of reclaiming this fairy tale, giving the princess a voice, an identity that’s based on more than her skin’s ability to turn purple.”

This is the retelling of Princess and the Pea, but it’s so unique and true to itself that–if I hadn’t been told beforehand–I probably wouldn’t have even known it was a retelling. It’s about a girl named Penelope who has an autoimmune disorder that causes her body to kill her platelets, thus leaving her a girl who bruises at the slightest touch. Meanwhile, her family is running a black-market organ transplant company. Basically, her life ain’t easy.

And really, the story is unique and the story really does suck you right in. So, why, you may ask, am I giving it 3 stars (3 meaning like a solid “okay”)? The first problem that knocked this story down from a 4 to a 3 is the blatant “love at first sight” romance that I’ve seen recently described as “insta-love.” About halfway through, there’s a moment where she is quite literally swept off her feet by a boy who is the most attractive boy she’s ever met. And she instantly loves him. And he also instantly loves her. I was trying to think about it, trying to legitimize this a little more…and I realized maybe I could understand the feelings on her side. Because of her disease, she had been super sheltered and over-protected her entire life. So when she finally gets out of her little bubble, it probably would be easy to have those puppy-love feelings for one of the first boys she’d meet. But for this other guy who shall remain nameless, it just doesn’t seem real to me. I just feel like the story would have been so much better if they had met and gradually started having feelings for each other…

Anyways, there was another thing that bothered me…but that was less as a reader and more as a diabetic, surprisingly enough. For a while, Penelope pretends to be a type 1 diabetic instead of explaining her complicated disease. And at first I thought that was funny…but how the guy reacted just kind of annoyed me. He claimed his best friend had been diabetic and he’s known diabetics…yet at one point he was lecturing her about the liver, eye, and kidney damage that would result in the future from her consumption of a brownie. Like what. You don’t say that to people. Especially about something as inconsequential as a brownie. And that’s just coming from me, a type 1 diabetic myself. And I know the author probably researched it somewhat and she tried and I hold nothing against her and am not offended at all. Just know, if people have a disease, especially type 1 diabetes, they most likely know how to handle it and don’t need people preaching at them. Unless they’re purposefully doing things that’ll harm them or not doing things that they need…then let the girl eat the brownie. Okay, I’m getting off my pedestal now. Sorry for that rant.

Anyways, the story was pretty good and I loved that Tiffany Schmidt took the idea that came from an original fairy tale and spun it. She expanded on this with a modern twist and it’s awesome. The “insta-love” did drop it down to a 3 but a it’s still a good book and I’m going to be reading the sequel when it comes out.


  • I’m type 1 diabetic too and i HATE people telling me what I can and can’t eat. I agree with every thing you have said, it’s a mix between knowing these people care about you and are trying to make sure you stay healthy but at the same time you are like: I know what I can and can’t eat so stop preaching at me about it. This has been the source of many a disagreement with my boyfriend! It’s so hard sometimes.
    I really do like the idea of this story, and including the quote from the author was a great idea, as it shows us exactly why she has wrote this story. I will defiantly be looking into get hold of a copy of this soon! 🙂

    • Haha, yes! I’m glad to find another diabetic in the book blogging community! I was trying to explain to my mom why this moment in the book bothered me so much…and she just didn’t get it. SO I’m glad you’re with me on this one!

      And yeah, I really did enjoy this book besides the problems I addressed here. Let me know what you think if you read it!

      • Haha, yeah I totally get you! Yeay, bookish diabetic club! 😛
        You should read The Summer I Met You (Jolene Perry) as I feel like only a fellow diabetic can understand how frustrating the main character (who is diabetic) is in this book!
        I’m hoping to, but don’t think it will be any time soon. So many books to read at the moment!

  • I absolutely hate insta love, so I hate to see that it’s in this book! I’ve been thinking of picking it up though, so I may still give this one a read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book!

    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian