Learning to Breathe (Hardcover)

By Janice Lynn Mather

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534406018, 336pp.

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

List Price: 18.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Sixteen-year-old Indy struggles to conceal her pregnancy while searching for a place to belong in this stunning debut novel that’s perfect for fans of Amber Smith and Sara Zarr.

Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules—to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow.

When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth.

Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof—it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.

Praise For Learning to Breathe

“A love letter to girls—bittersweet and full of hope.”

“This is a stellar debut.”

“A vibrant, essential story of healing, resilience, and finding one’s family.”

“A raw, beautiful, unforgettable must-read.”


“If you want to understand #MeToo for a sixteen-year old growing up on what many Americans know mostly as a tourist paradise, read Learning to Breathe. Mather is stunning as she shows us Indira's Bahamas, its landscapes, the search of a girl for herself on her island home. Indira will break your heart with her fierce voice and grit in the face of living in a family so damaged they all but abandon this beautiful girl of their own.”

"Through well-crafted dialogue, fresh characters, and solid pacing, the book's mature themes are handled carefully and with sensitivity. A powerful, poignant story about refusing to let the past dictate who you are or who you will become."

"Much like Ibi Zoboi’s American Street, this challenging read confronts injustice and celebrates strength of character and spirit."

* "This is a well-written, thought-provoking book that tackles difficult topics such as unwanted pregnancy, familial relationships, and rape, with nuance... A stirring debut for all YA collections."

*A Junior Library Guild Selection

"Mather skillfully balances emotionally wrenching scenes and surprisingly humorous ones; well-drawn supporting characters...enrich this capable debut."

"There is a realness and great level of depth to Indira’s character, and Mather does a magnificent job of conveying a girl’s muted existence following sexual assault and trauma."

"Emotionally charged, thought provoking and unforgettable."