The Place Between Breaths

The Place Between Breaths

For Ages: 12 - 99
From master storyteller and Printz Award–winning author An Na comes a dark, intensely moving story of a girl desperately determined to find a cure for the illness that swept her mother away, and could possibly destroy her own life as well.

Sixteen-year-old Grace is in a race against time—and in a race for her life—even if she doesn’t realize it yet…

She is smart, responsible, and contending with more than what most teens ever should. Her mother struggled with schizophrenia for years until, one day, she simply disappeared—fleeing in fear that she was going to hurt those she cared about most. Ever since, Grace’s father has worked as a recruiter at one of the leading labs dedicated to studying the disease, trying to lure the world’s top scientists to the faculty to find a cure, hoping against hope it can happen in time to help his wife if she is ever found. But this makes him distant. Consumed.

Grace, in turn, does her part, interning at the lab in the gene sequencing department daring to believe that one day they might make a breakthrough…and one day they do. Grace stumbles upon a string of code that could be the key. But something inside of Grace has started to unravel. Could her discovery just be a cruel side effect of the disease that might be taking hold of her? And can she even tell the difference?

Unflinchingly brave, An Na has created a mesmerizing story with twists and turns that reveal jaw-dropping insights into the mind of someone struggling with schizophrenia.
  • Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481422253 | 
  • March 2018 | 
  • Grades 7 and up
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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Place Between Breaths

By An Na

About the Book

A senior in high school, Grace King spends her afternoons as an intern at Genentium, a leading-edge genetics research lab. Both Grace and her father, a recruiter for the top scientists in the field of genetics, are looking for breakthroughs in treatment and a miracle cure for schizophrenia, the disease that destroyed Grace’s mother’s life and lured her away from their family and home. Grace and her father work with uncertain hope toward her mother’s return and recovery, and for their family to be whole once more. In the lab, Grace has a role, a function, a purpose; it is a place of comfort for her until there is nowhere she can go to escape the terrifying manifestations of what may be her mother’s illness, and she loses the capacity to distinguish between reality and illusion. Reluctantly, Grace learns to accept the support and encouragement of Will, an esteemed researcher with a familial history of schizophrenia. Shifting viewpoints and non-linear time lines create a complex, bewildering narrative that keeps the reader off-balance—but not as off-balance as Grace. Is hope for her recovery just a four-letter word?

Discussion Questions

1. As the novel begins, An Na suggests that perception is reality. “What lives and breathes as reality is a perception, so who is to say what is poss see more

More Books from this Author

The Fold
Wait for Me
A Step from Heaven

About the Author

An Na

An Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. A former middle school English and history teacher, she is the critically acclaimed author of The Fold, Wait for Me, the National Book Award finalist and Printz Award–winning novel A Step from Heaven, and The Place Between Breaths. She lives in Vermont.