Coming up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Released on: July 1, 2017
Read: June 22, 2017
I have read all the books in the Hundred Oaks series, and have loved them all in varying degrees. They do follow a pattern, boy and girl fall in love, but it’s not as simple as that. The rest is all very different. They usually involve a sport, but they are not always well-known ones, and have included horses, long distance running, and now this one – competitive swimming. As an Australian, I know that our Olympic swimmers receive more coverage than the US Team, although Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin have changed that.
One strong aspect to these books is the way Kenneally does not shy away from the sexual side of a romantic relationship. That doesn’t mean to say her characters are all bonking madly. It means the female characters think, talk and question what it means to want to be intimate with their boyfriends, and it’s usually honest and realistic behaviour and observations. It’s really good to see that she treats the physical side of relationships without condescension, or by preaching to her readers. It’s healthy and welcome. But maybe for older teens, if you are cautious or conservative, although the scenes are never exploitative or gratuitous.
Not that the books dwell on it. Here, competitive swimmer Maggie is focused on making the Olympic Swim Team. She is fortunate that her family support her, and that her best friends who also are in training for their own dreams, make time for her, and it’s the history and the longevity of these friendships that keep Maggie grounded and on track. There is a lot about what’s needed to be an elite sportsperson, and Maggie’s intensity is matched only by Levi, her swimming buddy, her training partner and life line.
Maggie’s decision to proposition Levi is impulsive and reckless. But it comes from a good place – she wants to have balance in her life, she wants to connect with someone she cares about, and who cares for her, and she wants honesty. But of course, wanting and getting are different things. I like the way Maggie has to confront how unrealistic her wishes are, and then work on how to try to fix this damaged situation.
Levi is an excellent character, mostly because he reads. I love that Kenneally shows him with his fantasy novels, his library books, and his mother supplying them for him. Such a different character trait for a teenage boy, but not outrageous or unbelievable at all. I also appreciate that we see Maggie and Levi’s other friends, Hunter and Georgia, who are also battling their own issues. My only niggle is the lack of diversity, but on the other hand, would an author like this get called out if she started to include African-American or Asian main characters? She is writing authentically, what she knows, and that seems fair.
I love the epilogue, the promise of long distance relationships working, and I look forward to reading more in this loosely linked series of books. Copy provided by Publisher via Netgalley and read with thanks. Out July 1st (in the US).
Highly recommended to already existing Kenneally fans, of course, and those who love their romances strong and realistic. There is much discussion about future options, especially for College, and how to achieve dreams. There are some funny awkwardly embarrassing moments, and even a look into the mental mind games that some sports people play to mess with their competition. Another winner!