Books like The Deepest Breath are so important. It is essential that LGBT+ children see themselves represented and they need to know that their feelings are normal and that it is OK to feel the way that they do. In this offering, Meg Grehan tells an uplifting story about one girl’s journey of self-discovery as she tries to make sense of the new feelings that she is experiencing.
Eleven-year-old Stevie has a funny feeling inside her chest. It’s the not the same feeling that she gets when she is around her best-friend-forever Andrew. This is different. Stevie’s mum jokes that one day Andrew and Stevie will get married but Stevie is certain that this will never happen. There is a girl at school that Stevie likes, a girl called Chloe. And whenever Stevie is around her she gets that warm fizzy feeling in her chest, her hands go clammy and her heart begins to race. She is desperate to talk to her mum about how she feels but their never seems to be a good time and she is full of anxiety about how her secret might affect her mother. In search of answers, Stevie heads to the library hoping that like most of the answers to her questions she can find it in a book…
The Deepest Breath is a heart-felt and emotional read about a young girl who is trying to understand the feelings that she has for Chloe, the girl in her class. Everything about the read is genuine and pure. Stevie is trying to make sense of something that is completely new to her and is bigger than anything that she has had to comprehend before but is filled with anxiety about talking to her mother as she is worried about what it might do to their relationship. You just want to reach into the book and give Stevie a hug and tell her that everything will be OK.
The children’s book industry is crying out for books that support children who may be experiencing similar feelings to Stevie and are swimming through a confused ocean of thoughts and emotions. In a relatively short-read, Grehan packs in many moving moments and so much of what is talked about will be relatable to children who see themselves in Stevie. From the heart-racing excitement of holding hands on a trip to the medical room, to awkward conversations with best friends to an eventual out-pouring of tears when all the bottled-up emotions come tumbling out.
Told in lyrical verse it is a very easy read that packs a big punch. Grehan empowers children to be comfortable with who they are and to find the courage to express their identity freely. I can only hope that all adults will be as understanding as Stevie’s mum is.
Recommended for 9+.