It’s my turn on the BlogTour Breathe by Elena Kravchenko.
About the Author
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.
About the book
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.
Carl doesn’t think much at first when he hears the news. It’s not until later that he realises his friends are in the middle of a tsunami. Missing, presumed dead. He know he has to help find them and bring them home. His journey to find them is closely linked to a personal philosophical epiphany.
This is based on the true events of December 2004, the earthquake and tsunami that left complete devastation in its wake.
I’m not sure this should have been a story torn in two directions, because for the majority it was and perhaps to the detriment of both. On one side you have Carl’s emotional journey to find his friends and the trauma based on the true life catastrophe – the tsunami of 2004. On the other side you have Carl’s journey of self discovery, and whilst both make for a good read it’s a bit like two alphas battling for attention at the same time. There is no dual crown, someone is going to lose. The question is whether you forfeit one for the other or give them both their own arenas instead of having them duke it out.
I admit I was more invested in Carl’s journey and determination to do right by his friend and his friend’s wife. To me it was a testament of his friendship and an example of what it means to be non-bio family. What goes on in the background in regards to the facts of the catastrophe and the aftermath was equally as important. The failings, the lack of interest, the unanswered fates of so many victims. It really puts the trauma and scale of the events into perspective. It’s an introspective and emotional read, one I think will stick with readers.