If you are in the mood for a slow burner and detailed character study, add The Air You Breathe to your list. The story follows Graça and Dores from their childhood on a sugar plantation in 1930’s Brazil to the glitzy streets of Hollywood. Through Dores, our narrator, we dive into the world of samba and examine the role of women (in Brazil and Hollywood), racism, class differences, and the dynamics of dysfunctional relationships.
Most of the book’s themes are explored through Graça and Dores’ codependent relationship. Although the writing is lyrical, this structure means the book sometimes moves at a glacial pace. I also felt that the character development stagnated during their rise to fame – not that I can speak from experience, but I always imagined the type of fame Graça and Dores were exposed to would massively change your personality.
That said, I enjoyed this book. The historical and social details about Brazil stood out to me, as did Dores’ realization that deifying those we love can also skew our memories of them - for better or worse.