Audiobook Review: COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan Henry



Format: Audio; 7 CDs (8 hrs, 11 min.)
Narrator: Janet Metzger
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Brilliance Audio
Released: August 16, 2011
Source: Borrowed from the library

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband, she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life. But everything changes when her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at the funeral, and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death – and he wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face.

As Ellie and Hutch start digging into Lillian’s history, and speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Using both a hidden diary that Ellie found in her mother’s things, and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…


I dearly loved this book. It pulled at my heartstrings, made me teary-eyed, and left me hopeful. What more could I ask for?

Coming Up For Air is such an appropriate title for this book. It relates to an amazing phenomena that happens at the Summer House, and also to Ellie herself, stagnant in a suffocating marriage and desperate for air. It is the mystery she finds in her late mother’s journal that is her catalyst. In uncovering her mother’s secret life, those missing years in the early 1960s, and the impact they had on her, Ellie rediscovers herself.

This was a beautifully written novel about love lost and found again. About heartbreak and hope. With a well-drawn cast of characters and a magical setting, it was easy to be absorbed in the story. Keep the tissues handy!

The audio edition of this book was performed by Janet Metzger, and I enjoyed her narration. The story was told in Ellie’s first person POV, and Ms. Metzger captured her disposition perfectly.

Rating: 5 Stars