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The Air You Breathe

A Novel
Narrated by: Rebecca Mozo
Length: 16 hrs and 38 mins

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Publisher's Summary

"Echoes of Elena Ferrante resound in this sumptuous saga." (O, The Oprah Magazine)

"Enveloping...Peebles understands the shifting currents of female friendship, and she writes so vividly about samba that you close the book certain its heroine's voices must exist beyond the page." (People)

The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride - and each woman's fear that she would be nothing without the other.

Some friendships, like romance, have the feeling of fate.

Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music. One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and, for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes - and haunt their memories.

Traveling from Brazil's inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Rio de Janeiro's famous Lapa neighborhood, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship - its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses - and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.

©2018 Frances de Pontes Peebles (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[A] glorious, glittery saga of friendship and loss.... Along the way [the two main characters] acquire...total interconnectedness, the likes of which I last found in Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend.... I read The Air You Breathe in two nights. (One might say I inhaled it.).... The Air You Breathe is genuinely exciting to watch." (NPR) 

"Gorgeous.... Peebles captures the complexity of these two women forever linked by their early bonds, and she vivifies their colorful times and the nuances in their relationship as it evolves over the decades." (The National Book Review)

“Peebles presents a captivating...portrait of friendship...[the book’s] reflections on love, music, envy, and loyalty ache with feeling, and a hint of mystery surrounding the central relationship’s dissolution will keep readers intrigued until the end.” (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-09-18

Review of The Air You Breathe

A very engrossing story. It takes you to another time, country and way of life. It’s a story full of everything. Narrator’s voice is rich and engaging.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-09-18

Lyrical

Stunning masterpiece! How can words do justice to complex, soul-stirring music, & depth of characters capture your heart? This book is a miracle of that genius.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Linda
  • 31-08-18

Wonderfully written and narrated!

As I listened to this wonderful book I was transformed to another century in another culture. The story was interesting, uncomfortable, happy and tragic. What more could a reader want? I did want one more thing—to hear the songs sung instead of the words spoken. That would have been the icing on a memorable cake. Brava Ms. de Pontes Peebles and Ms. Mozo!!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mary Krauss
  • 10-09-18

Speed up narration and enjoy much more

The reader over-emphasizes every line so that each note is high drama. She improves markedly about half way through. But I also discovered that putting the narration on 1.5 speed worked to decrease the melodrama somehow. Kind of amazing actually. Once the speed went up, the dramatic pauses quit wrecking a wonderfully complex story of love and art.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Wiserolder
  • 27-01-20

I tried to like it

This book needed a better editor...it went on and on and on. The two women were not likeable. One a spoiled manipulative brat and the other exceedingly violent. It started out w/promise and fizzled quickly. I am looking at all the good reviews this book has received and I have no idea why.

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  • Elaine A. Mowcomber
  • 15-11-19

Extremely boring and way to long

This is a book that should have never been written, it lacks depth and the story is just plain stupid. I waited until the last minutes for it to get interesting, it never did. I listened to the audible version, the narrator draws out the names every time she says them, I had to change the speed to 2 times so that I could stand listening to it. I only finished this book because it’s a book club pick. I wish I could get the 16 hours and 41 minutes back that I wasted on this stupid book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 31-10-19

Amazing - highly recommended

Great story, great narrator. I’d take my dog out for extra walks just to have an excuse to put on my headset and listen to more....!

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  • Denise
  • 20-09-19

An achingly raw journey

An achingly raw journey as we follow Gracia and Dor from childhood into women. De Pontes Peebles literally gives them voice. She also explores the relentless presence people can have in your life long after they have passed. This book begs to be made into a movie, as Samba is a main character and needs to be heard. The narrator is perfect.Her voice was like music, and her performance enhanced the rawness and power of the story.

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  • Martina
  • 10-04-19

The story took you on a great journey.

Listened to this and it was almost too much trying to be packed into one book. It’s a bit of music history, early Hollywood, sexuality, the ravages of getting old, and etc. It wasn’t my usual kind of book but worth the read. Well written with great imagery.

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  • Megan King
  • 08-03-19

Beautiful

I read the book when it first came out and I loved it enough that I decided to listen to the Audiobook while at work. Peebles is an amazing writer and immerses you in the story and time. Rebecca Mozo does an excellent job reading the story and sets the pace and passion of the story well.