The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride--and each woman's fear that she would be nothing without the other.
Some friendships, like romance, have the feeling of fate.
Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music.
One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes--and haunt their memories.
Traveling from Brazil's inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Rio de Janeiro's famous Lapa neighborhood, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship--its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses--and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.
PRAISE FOR "THE AIR YOU BREATHE"
"A glorious, glittery saga of friendship and loss...[offering] murder, extortion, Hollywood glamor, the entire story of samba, and, of course, sexual longing and an exceptional cast of characters... I read The Air You Breathe in two nights. (One might say I inhaled it.)…The Air You Breathe is genuinely exciting to watch.” –NPR
“Gorgeous … Peebles captures the complexity of these two women forever linked by their early bonds, and she vivifies their colorful times and the nuances in their relationship as it evolves over the decades.” –The National Book Review
“Enveloping…Peebles understands the shifting currents of female friendship, and she writes so vividly about samba that you close the book certain its heroine’s voices must exist beyond the page.” –People
“An absolute masterpiece…beautifully rendered…THE AIR YOU BREATHE manages to weave together the delicious tales of interpersonal relationships with the art of music making, while never losing sight of its reader/audience…Peebles is a master at sustaining dramatic tension, a wizard with intrigue and language, and a skilled curator of intimacy…Even more challenging is the ability to be able to create unapologetic antiheroes, which Peebles excels at…The tension created by these elements—the sociopolitical context, the drama of interpersonal relationships and queerness, and the high-stakes nature of subsisting off art—make a masterful book, sure to enthrall from beginning to end.” –Lambda Literary
“The Air You Breathe is a beautiful, luscious ode to the lasting friendships that shape our lives.”
“While The Air You Breathe is a brilliant portrayal of female friendship, equally brilliant are Peebles’ descriptions of the soulful step-by-step rhythm of whipped-up samba musicians, the dank back rooms & makeshift stages of boozy clubs in Rio, how the world magically retreats when a bedazzled singer steps into view, erupting in song, and finally the celluloid seduction of Hollywood studios. This is a remarkable and deeply felt tale of the price of ambition and fame.” –KMUW
“A sweeping, cinematic and thoroughly engrossing tale about an enduring friendship and the story of samba…[An] unforgettable novel.” –BookPage
“Echoes of Elena Ferrante resound in [this] sumptuous saga.” –O Magazine
“Frances de Pontes Peebles’ tender novel follows this unlikely friendship and the jealousy and rivalry that come with their pursuit of fame.” –Real Simple
“Samba music and its allure beats beneath this winding and sinuous tale of ambition, memory, and identity…Peebles' detailed and atmospheric story is cinematic in scope, panoramic in view, and lyrical in tone.”–Kirkus, STARRED review
“Peebles does a marvelous job of evoking the world of samba, which forms the backdrop to the complicated relationship the two women share. Readers…will be rewarded with complex characters and a well-realized setting.” –Booklist
“Peebles presents a captivating…portrait of friendship…[the book’s] reflections on love, music, envy, and loyalty ache with feeling, and a hint of mystery surrounding the central relationship’s dissolution will keep readers intrigued until the end.” –Publishers Weekly
“Although this novel is set during the 1930s in Brazil, the tale between two friends remains timeless...Each page is as intoxicating as the characters themselves; the perfect read for a long weekend or day off.” –Fashion Week Online
“The Air You Breathe is that kind of fairy tale where the curse is that your dreams come true, and keep coming true, and you have to survive it for the rest of your life. Two girls run after their dreams of samba, stardom, friendship and art, and the result is this glittering, mesmerizing, triumph of a novel.” –Alexander Chee, nationally bestselling author of The Queen of the Night
“The Air You Breathesweeps you up like a fairytale, and although the characters are deep and real, the story keeps its breathless magic to the end, with transformations and journeys and bonds as entrancing as Graça and Dores are themselves. Peebles has written an ambitious and consuming novel."–Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
“Prepare to lose yourself in this sweeping, lush novel about two girls in 1920s Brazil brought together by circumstance and kept together by love—of song, of success, and, in the end, of each other. As rich and complex and moving as music itself,The Air You Breatheis an extraordinary achievement.”–Cristina Henríquez, author of The World in Halfand The Book of Unknown Americans
“A masterfully choreographed saga of friendship, envy, sacrifice and love—as soulful, layered, and intoxicating as the samba that reverberates from the page.”–Georgia Hunter, New York Times-bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones
“A glittering, beautiful story full of romance and intrigue and tragedy, Frances de Pontes Peebles’s The Air You Breatheis hard to put down. From the toils of a sugar plantation in the 1920s to the glamour of Brazil's samba scene in the 1930s, at the center of Peebles’s immersive saga is a hard-won friendship, and the price one woman pays for fame and fortune and love.”—Anton DiSclafani, New York Times-bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
“I was captivated by this narrator's voice—wise with years of secrets, disappointments, and burning proximity to so much heat and light. And what a story Dor has to tell us: an aching reminiscence of lives entwined by music, friendship, and longing. After reading this glorious novel, I'll listen to samba and bossa nova with new ears, thinking of these characters, who are as vivid and unforgettable as a beautiful, haunting song.”—Laura Moriarty, New York Times-bestselling author of The Chaperone
“The Air You Breatheis a luxuriant, lovely, utterly delicious book. It will transport you to a world that is half-magical, half-historical, deeply familiar, and wholly new. It will infuse your life with its poetry and music; it will weave its lush beauty into your dreams. I couldn't put it down, and as soon as I was finished I couldn't wait to read it again.”—Abby Geni, winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for The Lightkeepers