THE AIR WE BREATHE is two stories, two very interesting,
interwoven stories, which eventually become one, the story
of how to move beyond one's past to live one's present...and
hope for one's future.
Molly Fisk is a teenager trapped inside her home, an
apartment above a small Maine wax museum. Her life hasn't
been the same since her father was killed. Now fear and
anxiety keep her a prisoner in a home filled with replicas
of dead people.
Claire Rodriguez functions, but look carefully, and note her
exposed frayed edges. Since the death of her marriage,
she's been existing, barely. Until she meets a young girl
who has fallen silent, but who miraculously wishes to talk
with her. Claire doesn't know if she could or should help,
but she finds herself drawn to the young girl. When that
girl, Molly, disappears with her mother, Claire has no idea
what has happened or where to look, and Molly can't imagine
anything but to keep looking back, her past always the first
and only thing she sees.
What struck me initially about THE AIR WE BREATHE was the
writing. Christa Parrish cajoles and strokes ordinary words
into language that sings. Readers sometimes read for high-
stakes plot, driven to turn pages to see what will happen
next. With this book, readers attuned to the sounds and
imagery language can evoke will flip pages both for the
story action and for the prose, to see how Parrish puts
together the next set of perfectly selected words.
The words are inviting, yes, but the main thing is certainly
the story. Parrish crafts two tales in one. Each story
tugs on the heartstrings, but eventually, as the stories
collide and converge, the final chapters cause readers to
cheer for not one, but two, happily ever afters. The best
stories will have the reader start to believe that there
can't be a happy ending, only to deliver one, and Parrish
does this well in both cases, but particularly with Molly.
The story speaks to how people can be a part of society and
yet not, and we, as a society, allow that to happen, to our
discredit. It also speaks to the power of a mother's love
and the inordinate courage it takes, when tragedy strikes,
not to be consumed by that tragedy. THE AIR WE BREATHE is a
breath of fresh literary air.
Molly Fisk Needs the Courage to Face Her Fears.
What She Finds Instead is a Most Unexpected Friendship.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Fisk does not go outside. For so
long she has run away from a moment long in the past, but
she's not running anymore, she's hiding. Ruled by anxiety,
she can only stare out the window of the tiny tourist-town
museum she and her mother call home, longing to go outside--
to maybe take a walk with the cute boy who works in the
pizza place across the street.
Then the chance arrival of a woman Molly knew years ago
Back then, Claire Rodriguez was an empty shell. Only in the
unique friendship she struck up with a little girl--a silent
girl who'd only talk to Claire--did she see the possibility
of healing. But one day the girl and her mother vanished,
their house left abandoned.
What happened that drove them away? And how can Claire now
offer Molly the same chance at finding life anew?