Breath to Breath


By Craig Lew

William is seventeen when he’s uprooted from his home and sent to live with his estranged father—someone he hasn’t seen since he was a little kid. When he’s unexpectedly dragged into a situation where he has no choice but to help an abused four-year-old boy, William’s world is rocked to the core as he discovers the truth of the boy’s experience of extreme sexual abuse. He and this boy are connected in ways William can’t even imagine. As horrible memories begin to flood his consciousness, William’s rage drives him to steal a neighbor’s guns, convinced he must stop those responsible for causing a boy so much pain and betrayal.

How William finds the love and compassion he needs to make the right choices is the heart and pulse of this riveting verse novel. Inspired by a true story, Breath To Breath explores what hurt and healing really mean: to survive you hold your breath, but to live you must exhale.

Ages: 15 and up

Pages: 448

Buy on iBooks

Buy on Kindle

Order your first edition hard cover:

Out of stock

Product Description

Get the FREE Breath to Breath Discussion Guide


For more of the story behind the story, please visit Relish Media.




Check out this great article by Anisse Gross, “A Side of Relish: Little Pickle Press Adds YA Imprint” about the launch of Relish Media and our debut YA novel, Breath To Breath, in Publishers Weekly!

Publishers Weekly article by Anisse Gross, "A Side of Relish: Little Pickle Adds YA Imprint"

And Craig was featured, along with New York Times Bestselling Author Ellen Hopkins and Kristin Elizabeth Clark at the Teenquake and Not Your Mother’s Book Club October 2015 event. All three authors discussed their novels in verse. School Library Journal covered the event!

School Library Journal coverage of teenquake event with debut author Craig Lew, whose novel in verse, "Breath To Breath" comes out on Nov 17, 2015






9 reviews for Breath to Breath

  1. :

    “Seductive. Enthralling. Earth-shattering. Carve out some time because you won’t want to put this one down.”

    ~ Ellen Hopkins, bestselling author of the CRANK trilogy.

  2. :

    Seventeen-year-old William can’t seem to escape his history of violence despite being uprooted from his home to live with his estranged father. Just after moving in, he is led by a stray dog to an eight-year-old boy being bullied by a group of teenagers. A frenzy takes over William as he comes to the boy’s rescue, leaving one teen with a broken collar bone. After returning the backpack the group stole from the boy, William hears sniffling through a fence and meets a four-year-old boy named Patches who disappears right in front of him. The days pass and William continues to encounter both the dog and Patches from a distance, inexplicably drawn to the boy. During one chance meeting, Patches confesses to William that he is being sexually abused but runs away before William can help. He then begins to ‘hear’ Patches, among other children, when no one is around. When William’s new school friend, Shasten, reveals to him that she is an empath, and that she feels William might be too, she encourages him to use his special connection to reach out to Patches. Saving the boy becomes an obsession that culminates in a gripping confrontation that will leave the reader breathless!

    Written in a raw, authentic teen voice, Breath to Breath allows the reader to see and feel everything that William experiences; anxiety over a high school crush, pride in making the football team, respect for a real friend, helplessness for the little boy, rage for his teammates, longing for love from a distant father, shame for his past, sadness for a future that may never come. Inspired by a true story and written in the style of Ellen Hopkins, this novel-in-verse, will keep you on the edge of your seat from your first breath until your last!

    Note: This book is for older teens due to detailed sexual abuse.

    -Brandi Bette Smead, Benicia Public Library

  3. :

    “Breath to Breath is dark, powerful, and full of hope. I can’t stop thinking about it.”
    – Carol Lynch Williams, award-winning author of The Haven and The Chosen One

  4. :

    “This is a powerful story of brutality repressed and denied, of mystery and tragedy turned into redemption. Craig Lew’s writing is brilliant, easy to read, and very literary.​” – Gloria Skurzynski​, award-winning author of Virtual War, The Clones, and The Revolt.

  5. :

    “Craig, your book was hard to put down. A truly gripping and troubling story in a good way.
    If it helps a few readers understand the complexity of abuse you have done your job.” – Dr. Stan Steiner, the “Bookman”

  6. :

    Five out of Five Hearts on ForeWord Reviews!

    “From the haunting, disturbing opening, all the way to the riveting climax, Lew delivers a tale of a boy on the brink of both discovery and destruction, whose poetic voice shines forth from inner darkness.” -Review by Stephanie Bucklin

  7. :

    School Library Journal:

    Gr 10 Up– William Stout, a recent transplant from Kansas, is hoping his move to California will be the fresh start he needs. After his grandfather passes from cancer, he moves to California to live with his estranged father. The 17-year-old William remembers very little of his parents, yet something about his new neighborhood seems oddly familiar, something that threatens to trigger the violent tendencies he seeks to repress. Counseling, a potential girlfriend, a new job, and a starting spot on the school football team help him manage his anger. However, run-ins with a mysterious child lead William to discover hidden talents and pieces of his past that threaten to unravel the new life he has created. Although he does not know the child, he is plagued by the unshakable feeling that the child is suffering horrific abuse, and he is determined to help. Written in short, impactful poetic prose, this is a gut-wrenching novel that manages to be dark and hopeful. It is a suspenseful mystery with a revelation that is unexpectedly sad and heartbreaking. VERDICT A tough choice for sensitive readers, this is recommended for older, mature teens.
    – Tamela Chambers, Chicago Public Schools, IL

  8. :

    “The climax of the novel achieves that perfect balance of believability and unpredictability. Whether or not those events actually happened to William, this is a gripping story that the reader will not forget easily. From the beginning, readers are on William’s side. He’s had a difficult life and made mistakes, but he wants to do the right thing. He also struggles with demons that even he does not understand. When he does come to terms with them, readers will appreciate his choices and how he moves beyond his past. His past affects him, but it does not define him. Well-drawn secondary characters, notably love interest Shasten and lab partner Ollie, add richness and dimension to the story.”- The Pirate Tree

  9. :

    “Breath to Breath left me speechless. It’s a powerful, raw story that grabbed me from page one and dragged me through a turbulent, emotional journey of pain and terror, healing and triumph, bringing clarity and hope. I loved it.” – Ann K., age 18, Benicia, CA

Add a review