Book Review: Coming Up For Air

Coming Up For Air – Miranda Kenneally – Hundred Oaks – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 4 July 2017





Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

My thoughts

I fondly remember reading Catching Jordan – my first book by Miranda Kenneally. Since then I have greatly enjoyed her Hundred Oaks series. Coming Up for Air brings us almost full circle, once again providing a best-friends romance set against elite sport and coming of age issues.

Maggie’s life revolves around swimming. It has to if she wants to make it to an Olympics trial this year. Fortunately she has friends who are also athletes and understand that training comes first. Her best friend Levi is also a swimmer and they spend most of their time together, training, eating, and training some more. But a trip to her chosen college leaves Maggie feeling a little behind in the social department. Determined to stay focused on swimming and beating her rival, but also wanting to experiment a little she asks Levi for some guidance. But neither she nor Levi are prepared for the change it sparks in their relationship.

I really love best-friend romances. There is something so comforting about the shared understanding, all that backstory and history that makes such a strong connection between the characters. I also loved that this wasn’t a hidden-feelings story. Neither Levi nor Maggie have ever thought about each other in any way but friends before. The change in perspective comes slowly and it is quite a shock to them. This also leaves them struggling to decide what they want and what exactly they feel. They are new and exciting feelings, but underpinned by a very strong friendship. My favourite part of their relationship was their candour. They talk!! It’s amazing. They are open and honest and talk things through, which is so refreshing. And the few times they mess up and don’t talk to each other they totally call themselves on it and work to rebuild the trust. Loved it.

Coming Up for Air also ramps up the heat. When Maggie says she wants to experiment socially, she means physically – it’s all about dating and sex. There are some very open discussions about sex in this book. Safe sex, waiting for sex, casual sex – it is frank, open, and non-judgmental. Because of this level of content, I recommend this book for mature young adults and new adults. However, this is consistent with the target audience for the book’s themes about the end of high school and the transition to higher learning, and the way in which these both effect relationships.

Readers of the Hundred Oaks series will enjoy the appearances of characters from the previous novels, predominately Jordan and Sam. There is a fantastic epilogue, that perfectly concludes this book with the same mix of realism and idealism that dominates this book – characters reaching for their dreams but working really hard to make them a reality.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Contemporary.

Themes: Sport, swimming, Olympics, best friends, romance, relationships, dating, sex, friendship, high school, coming of age.

Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.

Advisory: Infrequent coarse language, f*** (3), sh** (24), assh*** (8), di** (5). Frequent strong sexual references, implied sex scene, detailed heavy making out and experimentation scenes.

Published:  4 July 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire.

Format: Paperback, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.

ISBN: 9781492630111

Find it on Goodreads


  1. kozbisa

    My review for this posted today too (great minds…) I loved so many of the same things: that they talked, it was sex-positive, friends to lovers story, and I especially loved the ending and all the Hundred Oaks cameos. This is a bittersweet one for me. I will miss Hundred Oaks.
    Sam @ WLABB

    • Madison's Library

      I did see that. Great review, Sam! And I totally agree with what you said, too. I really hope this isn’t the last Hundred Oaks book, but if it is Miranda Kenneally finished as she started – with a really spot-on, sweet and totally enjoyable story.

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