Good Morning. Today I have the pleasure of sharing my blog tour review of Breathe by Elena Kravchenko which was kindly offered to me from Anne at Random Things Blog Tours
He has to look back to see tomorrow.
December 26, 2004: The Indian Ocean tsunami has flooded great swathes of western Thailand.
Carl’s best friend and his wife are missing. He travels from London to Thailand to discover what has happened to them, only to learn there is nothing one man can do in the devastation the wave left behind. What started as an impulsive quest ends up with him examining the very essence of his being.
A unique combination of an action-packed quest for truth and a philosophical exploration of life’s deeper meaning, Breathe is a poignant, tense and intelligently written story that will have you contemplating its meaning and message long after you have reached the final page.
I have to admit that despite this book not been of my usual genre, there was something about the blurb that really made me want to read it.
We follow the story of Carl who has gone searching for his best-friend and his wife who were on their honeymoon in Thailand when the 2004 Tsunami hit.
We see him not only go on a journey to find his friends but unbeknownst to him, a journey of self-discovery.
I’m not even sure where to begin with this review. I have so many thoughts and feelings. Firstly let me commend Elena for being a truly magnificent storyteller.
As I was reading Breathe I felt so many different emotions; dread, despair, frustration, love, hope, optimism…you name it and I felt it. I wanted to reach into the pages and warn Kristoff what was coming but I couldn’t. Then watching Carl go place to place seeing the devastation and destruction that was written superbly and it felt real.
In the back of my mind I was constantly aware that even though this was a story, it was based upon true life events, this tsunami happened and so many lives were lost. I found myself looking it up as I don’t really remember much about it, watching YouTube videos, reading first hand experiences and it was harrowing for everyone. There were points when I woke in the middle of the night and Carl’s journey was the first thing on my mind.
There was one quote from the book which stuck with me which I would like to share,
And this couldn’t be more true.
I really enjoyed reading this book, it has been probably my most enjoyable read of the year so far and so very thought-provoking.
A lesson to trust in yourself and let instinct guide you.
I grew up in Kiev, Ukraine at the end of Soviet era, small enough not to fully understand the changes which swept all over my country but big enough to remember before and after. I remember my father asking me, what is the capital of your country? Moscow, I said. His eyes filled with bitterness. ‘It’s Kiev. Kiev!’ he shouted at me. That was not true, I thought, that is not what they taught us at school, but I felt too small to argue with him.
After Lenin’s portrait was taken down in our classroom, my years in school I mostly remember for being self-conscious about being tall, very tall in fact, the tallest girl in the school. Hiding, spending a lot of time at home, I read books that took me to the worlds I thought I could only dream of going to. And then the coin flipped and being tall and skinny was appreciated. I changed from studying at university to distance learning, and left for Paris on a one-way ticket to become a model.
There were highs and lows, but mostly there was a lot of travelling, I lived a peripatetic life in many capitals in all the continents, some cities became home for a while and some I just passed through.
The modelling years finished and I completed my Masters degree in Art and Business and I worked for a while at Sotheby’s, the auction house, in London – a cosmopolitan hub where every one of my friends came from different corner of the world, with vastly different backgrounds, stories, pursuits and visions of tomorrow. I felt that I fitted right in with this motely band of gypsies.
Every year, I went to my husband’s summer house in the North of Sweden. The pine trees and birches, soft bright green moss, the smell of dry grass, hare bells and red clover in the meadow reminded me of my grandparents’ home where as a child I was sent for long summer months. But it was only when my first son was born, I finally felt the true meaning of home – it’s where my heart was, it was in front of me. Last year, we left London and settled in the Chilterns, where I began a new chapter of my life, planting my dream garden and working on my next book.
Writing Breathe was a long journey – challenging and at times rewarding and yet sad.
In December 2004, I was in Thailand, planning to spend Christmas and New Year at a friend’s house in Phuket, but at the last moment, I changed my mind and left. So I never met ‘Kristoffer’ and ‘Eva’. I wish I did, because I heard so much about them from ‘Carl’ – the book is inspired by his story.
In 2012, I went to remote Koh Prah Thong and by pure accident met Kimina and JP, tsunami survivors and owners of one of bungalows at the resort, returning for the first time to the island since the wave devasted it. They met Kristoffer and Eva, and they remembered meeting Carl in Kurabury. Together, we kayaked into an endless maze of the mangrove creek until somehow my kayak turned upside down and I fell into the murky waters. As I tried to get into a canoe, I scratched my shoulders on the thorns of a plant, but at that time the wound looked minor. Back in London, in a matter of days it swelled to a size of an orange and because it didn’t respond to any antibiotic treatments, I had surgery on my shoulder. The samples of my tissues were tested and studied and almost five months later my doctor finally admit they were unable to match it with any known infection. I felt all these events were like beads that lay in my hand waiting to be threaded into a story – the story of Breathe.
Thanks for reading.