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Breathing Room

de Marsha Hayles

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11512238,584 (3.86)2
In 1940, thirteen-year-old Evvy Hoffmeister and her newfound friends struggle to get well at Loon Lake Sanatorium, where they are being treated for tuberculosis.
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Excellent historical fiction about life in a sanitarium in the 1940s. Evvy is 13, and has been diagnosed with tuberculosis. Her family sends her to be treated at a sanitarium, where she is told not to speak, laugh, or even get out of bed. The story is about her relationships with fellow patients as she grapples with the idea of death (her own, and that of her friends). I especially loved the pictures of actual artifacts from the time period (with complete notes in the back of the book). Great for advanced 4th graders through 7th grade. ( )
  AmeliaHerring | Jan 22, 2016 |
A quick read that follows Evvy's stay at Loon Lake sanatorium in Minnesota for people suffering from tuberculosis. It explores her treatment, friendships, and the attempts to survive the disease.
I didn't know much about TB before reading this book, so I learned a lot as I read Evvy's story unfold. ( )
1 vote ewyatt | Jan 2, 2016 |
I really liked the characters and getting to know the dreaded disease tuberculosis. Evvy gives us insight into how it feels to miss family and try to relate to new friends who are just as afraid of dying as she is. Great characterization! ( )
  DrBarb | Jan 12, 2014 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 4-8

Plot Summary: Tanya is going to the Loon Lake Sanatorium to be cured of her tuberculosis. She isn't happy about it either. She is separated from her twin brother and loving father and is no forced to lie still in bed all day without talking. Her roommates aren't very nice. They never talk to her and when they finally do, all they do is argue or share gruesome stories of what happens to people at the sanatorium. Will Tanya get well enough to be able to read and write letters? Will she become friends with any of the girls? Will she ever get well enough to go home? Will she be brave enough to help some friends in need?

Setting: Loon Lake, Minnesota

Characters:
Evelyn Hoffmeister - 13 y/o, likes to play with words but is struggling to be a poet
Abe - Evelyn's twin borther, gets along better with their mom, not very good at writing but is very good at science and art, sends Evelyn a note in code that Sarah has to explain to Evelyn
Father - gardener, cute and sappy
Mother - doesn't show love or affection, very involved in her music teaching
Nurse Marshall - tough nurse, no sympathy or kind words at all
Dr. Keith - doctor on the floor, rumored to hav a thing with Nurse Gunderson, one-on-one is kind to Evvy but when arund Nurse Marshall he is stoic
Nurse Gunderson - the night nurse who is the only person who smiles and treats the girls like humans, brings little treats including cokes for everyone one night, disappears after a while and is suspected to be sick with tuberculosis herself, is unconscious when Tanya sneaks into her room to deliver Pearl's gift
Pearl - obsessed with movie stars, gets a day out with her brother and brings home fans with different designs for each person, loves Gone with the Wind, dies a gruesome death in Dena's arms on the hallway floor outside their room
Beverly - tries to stop Pearl and Dena from arguing without luck, doesn't want to go home but is the only one to get a notice that she can (I think she has a rough life at home either because she has to care for her many younger siblings or because she is treated poorly, but that storyline is only hinted at)
Dena - crabby and knowledgable, 15 y/o, goes to the adult ward on her 16th birthday, likes having Tanya read poetry to her, Dr. Keith takes Tanya and Sarah to see Dena when she isn't doing well and ends up dying in their arms
Sarah - 14 y/o, looks sickly and frail when she moves in but becomes Evelyn's best friend, goes to a single room after a treatment for weeks and Evelyn's sneaks in to see her during Christmas
Miss Wanda - nurse's aide, was a patient before she became a nurse's aide, crabby, mean, bully, and racist against the Germans

Recurring Themes: tuberculosis, twins, friendship, death, poetry, kindness, patients, nurses, letters, 1940s

Controversial Issues:
pg 88 - talk about the "monthly curse" very briefly

Personal Thoughts: I read this in one day. It had everything I liked, character development and drama. I don't think it's quite as strong as some readalikes, for example Small Steps, but I do think it is well written. I did not cry during the sad scenes so I think it would have been a stronger book if it had started when she first got sick so I could understand what she was leaving behind. I loved the information in the back of the book and I enjoyed seeing the primary sources at the beginning of each chapter.

Genre: historical fiction (1940s, tuberculosis)

Pacing: medium
Characters: fairly well developed by needed a touch more
Frame:
Storyline:

Activity:

Readalikes: Small Steps by Peg Kehret, Ways to Live Forever ( )
  pigeonlover | Aug 9, 2013 |
Having TB in the 1940's means you must be sent away so as not to infect the rest of your family. How do you cope away from everyone you know and how do you deal with a life threating disease. ( )
  lindamamak | Jul 13, 2013 |
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In 1940, thirteen-year-old Evvy Hoffmeister and her newfound friends struggle to get well at Loon Lake Sanatorium, where they are being treated for tuberculosis.

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