Withers, Pam. Breathless. Orca, 2005. ISBN 978-1551434803 128 pp. $
Beverly’s goals while on school break are simple: lose 10 pounds and get a guy. Insecure about her weight and attractiveness, she builds self-esteem by spending time helping her uncle with his dive shop in Hawaii, and more than one guy seems to be sending her interested signals. She likes 18-year-old Garth, whose charming attention and wandering hands are proof of his attraction, no matter what her scale says. Still, she is determined to starve herself to slim down, never guessing about the effects of skipping meals on her athletic diving activities, and inevitably gets into a situation that puts herself and Garth in danger.
The author’s choice to never reveal the true weight of the self-loathing protagonist makes the novel accessible to every girl. Supporting characters such as Uncle Tom and his deaf assistant Weniki are fleshed out well. Readers who had never experienced the life aquatic will share in Beverly’s joy and wonder at tropical creatures, and fear and horror at running into a moray eel and dropping her regulator. Attention to detail and character development are strong in this brief novel.