“I truly think Staley’s descriptions are brilliant—the setting, the characters and the dialogue moves this novel very quickly. The language is so amazing. She could write about peas and I would read it. NEED TO BREATHE is anything but predictable. A pleasure to read!” –Catherine DiCairano, award-winning author of “An Original Melody” and BEHIND THE TREES
“The deeper I dug into this book, the more I realized I’d stumbled on a chunk of literary gold. . . Staley’s efficient and beautiful prose flits from paragraph to paragraph, never dwelling too long on one person or one event. The amazing thing, however, is the novel never feels shallow. Like a parachute in a gale, Breathe’s characters pop to life quickly, rich and full and ready to carry the reader to whatever destination Staley has in store.” –Brian Braden, Underground Book Reviews
All Millie Rose can do at first is stare into the blinding lights of the NICU and hear doctors demanding answers about the burns on Claire’s body. Nurses panic, they cry and shout “she’s bradying down!” because, Lord help them, they’ve never seen anything like this.
Neither has Millie. Although she died in childbirth in 1922, she still has a purpose. Her afterlife is filled with missions lasting anywhere from ten minutes to ten years, and she views her newest assignment as a second chance at motherhood. But she's got to act fast because Claire's lungs are weak, her heart rate keeps tanking, and her pH levels are low. The hospital has never had a 26-weeker pull through.
Millie also tries to counsel Claire’s troubled parents, Mick and Manda, through the emotional fallout. They see marriage as the best “band-aid,” but Claire’s birth always haunts them, to the point Manda becomes a chain-smoking pill-popper who paints her house completely white. Mick becomes a reclusive binge-eater who sleeps in the barn. And Claire comes-of-age wondering about it all-- why she’s so sick, why she has scars on her skin, and what’s the secret her parents are keeping?
Finally, there’s a good reason why Millie nudges Claire to find romance years later with the geeky guy down the street. True, Charlie Vance may build his own batteries and dissect dead animals, but his love for Claire drives his decision to attend medical school so he can take care of her the rest of her life.