Review: Breathing Ghosts

Title:  Breathing Ghosts
Author:  Laekan Zea Kemp
Publication:  September 30, 2013
Reviewed by:  Jen
Rating:  4.5 Stars
Reason for Reviewing:  E-book provided in exchange for an honest review.
She is a winding cosmos, bleeding and bursting into night. She is a dream. She is dead.

River has just lost the one thing that matters most to him—Nia—and all she’s left behind is a pile of scribbled love notes detailing their past and a pin-holed map planning out their future. Hopes and dreams confined to one dimension now that she’s gone and River’s too afraid to leave his hometown, crippled by the same anxiety that’s plagued his mother for as long as he can remember.

But after a strange encounter with the only girl he ever loved a week after laying her to rest, River, armed with nothing but her map and his memories, decides to finally leave and never look back. And with the help of a pair of eccentrically named siblings as well as a mutt with three legs, he sets out to do the very thing Nia always knew how to do better than he ever could—live.

From the moonlit beaches off of Florida’s east coast, to the forests of Mississippi, to Bourbon Street, Cadillac Ranch, and the Arizona desert, River is faced with not only Nia’s ghost but his own and he learns that in life there are no accidents, only miracles.
 Breathing Ghosts

I want to start this review by asking Ms. Kemp the following:

Why Ms. Kemp?  Why?!  I was completely unprepared for, as the kids these days put it, all of the feels.  Let me breakdown why.

I wasn't ready for how emotionally invested I was going to become in River's journey.  I had no intention of being sucked in by his grief or loneliness and yet as the pages flew by I couldn't help but start to care how his journey was going to turn out.  He's the type of character that makes you want to reach into the pages and hug him until he breaks while simultaneously shaking him until he hurts.  Watching him come to realizations about Nia and his life are both beautiful and painful to witness.  I could relate to him and his plight because, let's face it, we've all had demons and/or situations we've tried to run from.

I also wasn't ready to encounter such awesome side characters.  The siblings, who shall remain nameless because it's part of what makes their introduction funny, have their own issues and demons they're trying to outrun.  They're funny, witty and have some of the funniest back and forth I've read in a while.  Much to River's dismay, they become an intricate part of his journey.  They inadvertently become his anchor and help him crawl out of the hole he's let himself fall into.  Even the three legged pooch he encounters serves an important role.

You know what else I wasn't ready for?  The friggin' road trip.  It's like you are literally standing shoulder to shoulder with River during each stop he makes.  The descriptions of each location are ridiculously vivid.  The only places I've actually seen with my two eyes is New Orleans and Florida (probably not fair because I live here) but, you can bet your right butt cheek that I Googled each of the places visited in the story and they're all legit.  Trust me.  I looked.  Sitting here thinking about the trip as a whole just blows my mind.  It seriously inspired me to plan a road trip.  Preferably without the crazy emotional baggage.

Do yourselves a favor and pick up this book.  The journey won't be easy but it is so incredibly worth it.  Thank you Ms. Kemp for giving me the gift of the unexpected.

Favorite Scene:

“Yeah, that Saint Expedite statue. You know, anti-procrastinator.”

I remember Carter translating the sign. “Today.”

“Exactly. Okay, so that’s our next challenge. Say yes no matter what?”

“Unless someone asks us to commit a murder.”

“Or to sleep with their six hundred pound sister with a mustache.”

“Or to eat a bologna sandwich.”

“You don’t like bologna?”

“Shit no dude. It’s disgusting.”

“That’s it. We’re stopping at the next gas station and I’m buying a package of bologna. The cheap kind with the red string.”

“No dude.”

He flashes me a wry smile. “Hodie, motherfucker. Hodie.”

-Conversation between River and one of the siblings (Kindle Location 2669-2675)


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