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    Breath

    Roberts, Michael Symmons (2008) Breath. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 022407802X

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    Abstract

    Breath is set in a country recovering from a brutal and divisive civil war between north and south. The war may be over but people’s memories are long and hatreds are slow to fade. A teenage boy, Jamie, is knocked off his bike and dies in a city street. His father, Geoff Andrews, manager of the main hospital, is asked if he will allow one of Jamie’s lungs to be removed and flown north for a transplant. He agrees, and the mercy mission begins: six hours to get the lung out of one body and into another. As the night unfolds, and the plane travels through storms across the war-ravaged country and over the border, we see the drama from three different perspectives: Andrews, grieving for the son he perhaps never knew well enough – this one single death overwhelming, even after the deaths of so many; the lung’s recipient, Baras, an old man fighting for breath, and life – a northerner with blood on his hands; and in the turbulent sky between them, Jude, the young pilot, who is closest to Jamie – or at least to his breath, his spirit, his voice. A novel about violence and vengeance, and what must take their place, Breath is a moving and timely examination of the fractures of war and grief and the long struggle towards peace and reconciliation

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