Breathing Room

Breathing Room

by Patricia Elam
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Breathing Room by Patricia Elam

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

ISBN-13: 9780671028435
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: 01/02/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Patricia Elam is a freelance writer and commentator. Her ?ction and non?ction writings have been published in The Washington Post, Essence, Emerge, Newsday, and in such anthologies as Father's Songs and New Stories from the South. A winner of the O. Henry Award, she has been a commentator for National Public Radio, NBC News, CNN, and the BBC. Visit her Web site at

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4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very well written. The characters were intriguing and story lines for each were very realistic. I really enjoyed this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a good book to me because I could truly relate to it. I went through something similiar where I lost confidence in a friend because of their actions. I had valued and depended on the strength of my friend and then to realize that they were only human like me. Also the real life issues of Moxie dealing with juvenile deliquents and truly putting her heart and soul into her job. Her inability to be selfish and sacrifice so much of herself for her father and her daughter. I could feel for Norma and at times I couldn't stand her. No matter what Lawrence did or did not do she had no business having an affair. Though part of me understood why she did. I think that Moxie put Norma up on a pedestal or gave her more credit than she was due and was dissapointed when she saw otherwise. However, friend need to learn to forgive. And True friendship will stand the test of time. The only problem I had with this book was Zadi had to much lip and she talked to crazy to her mother. I am from the old school and I don't believe in all that eyeball rolling and telling mama's to stay out of their business. Zadi needed a butt whipping!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Patricia Elam's novel while on a recent 16 hour plane ride.I was captivated by her characters and her development of their personalities and their intertwining lives. Thank you Ms. Elam for relieving my boredom.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not done with this book just yet, but let me tell you, so far it is a winner. Elam's style gives a comprehensive view of complex characters: Moxie, her teenaged Zadi, and Moxi's friend Norma, are written with much insight and seem very real-to-life. This book is a nice change of pace from our usual African-American type novels. If you're in the market for something good, different, and a read that stimulates your social conscience, Breathing Room is the book for you.