Breathing Room

About The Book

In her dazzling debut novel, award-winning author Patricia Elam takes us into the lives of two completely different women whose friendship has helped them weather just about everything. But now they're at a crossroads where understanding may not be enough -- a place where they must risk it all to rediscover what they cherish most.
Photographer Norma Simmons-Greer has a loving husband, a lively young son, and an upper-middle-class lifestyle. Probation officer Moxie Dilliard is as dedicated to her ideals as she is to her talented teenage daughter, Zadi. Best friends after meeting in college, Norma and Moxie are each other's reality check and reassurance.
But suddenly the bond between them begins to unravel in unexpected ways. Anguished over the loss of her second child and her husband's recent withdrawal, Norma takes refuge in a complex love affair that puts her at odds with Moxie -- and with herself. Haunted by her beloved mother's inspiring yet disturbing emotional legacy, Moxie struggles to understand her friend, while her own refusal to compromise threatens to shatter her relationship with Zadi. And a devastating crisis will challenge both women to face the hardest of truths.
With insight, humor, and heartbreaking immediacy, Patricia Elam presents a beautifully written portrait of two unforgettable women, and the teenager they both cherish, as they negotiate the ever-shifting terrain of friendship and identity. A wise, tender novel of what love can and cannot survive, Breathing Room is also an exploration of how the past can at once inspire and limit us, and of the pain -- and promise -- that accompany us on the journey we all share.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (November 16, 2001)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743419468

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Raves and Reviews

New York Post Provocative....Her characters feel than the suburban fantasy women found in the Waiting to Exhale genre of books that currently crowd bookstore shelves

Bay State Banner (MA) An auspicious debut....Elam has the gift of good storytelling down and delivers a blast of a first novel.

Washingtonian Magazine Online Breathing Room is a moving story of relationships and what destroys and saves them.

Kirkus Reviews The reality of contemporary middle-class African-American life [is] scrutinized with a certain insight and sometimes painful honesty.

Matthew Klam author of Sam the Cat Patricia Elam, with grace, shares the hurricane forces tearing through two women's lives in this quietly merciful, grueling debut novel. Breathing Room had me riveted from the √ěrst page. I cried at the end, exhausted.

New York Times bestselling author E. Lynn Harris This wonderful novel is emotionally rich and painfully powerful. It lovingly conveys the amazing elements that hold women's friendships together.

Washington Post Elam is a warm, engaging writer who draws the reader into the lives of a group of women so skillfully that they become real.

Detroit Free Press Elam masterfully captures the joy and pain that comes from living and loving.

Washington Times ...has success written all over it.

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