Brenna O'Brien feels she has a life "as simple and uncomplicated as a slice of white bread". At thirty-three, she is the "baby" in her family of older married sisters. She loves them all and enjoys spending time scrap-booking with them. Brenna just wishes they would not try so hard in their matchmaking efforts. She has become weary after too many blind date disasters. Brenna's life is full with not only family, but her childhood friend, Dooley Gambrel, and with running her business, the Royal Majestic Theater. The theater is an old-fashioned movie palace that Brenna hopes to restore to its former glory some day. Right now, her only goal is to keep it running and show both first-run movies as well as special events with classic movies such as "Casablanca".
Brenna feels as though she is inside an old movie when she sees Pierce McGovern back in town. Pierce broke her heart when she was young and vulnerable. Brenna does not want to open old wounds, but she gets pulled back into Pierce's life as he tries to settle his aging father into a nursing home.
Brenna is an engaging and empathetic protagonist who has enough guilt and emotional baggage from the past to fill a steamer trunk. Pierce has many issues of his own to deal with as well as his current guilt over how his business may affect Brenna's future. The author has an amazing ability to paint vivid word portraits of all the characters, so that by the novel's end the reader feels a true emotional tie to them.
All Ms. White's novels reflect her superb storytelling style, but LEARNING TO BREATHE is perhaps the most emotionally charged tale of them all. I read the last twenty pages with a lump in my throat. This is a book that is bound to resonate with readers on many levels. Love in a variety of forms is explored. The reader will turn the last page with a feeling of hope. I look forward with great anticipation to Ms. White's next book, A YEAR OF RAIN due out in 2008.