Body Awakening Through Athletics: A Gender Analysis of Corporealities in Breathe, Annie, Breathe
In the context of Young Adult Sports Fiction, Miranda Kenneally’s Breathe, Annie, Breathe (2014) addresses some crucial problematics that her protagonist, Annie, experiences through her body changes as she enters the world of athletics and campus life. Structured as a coming-of-age novel, Breathe, Annie, Breathe depicts Annie’s progressive acknowledgement of her body as she trains for a marathon so as to honor her recently deceased boyfriend. First characterized as a rather passive young woman with no awareness of her physical and emotional potential, Annie starts to become a mature adult with a burgeoning sense of self, able to understand her body, academic goals and sexual desires, ultimately leading her to recover her affectivity beyond her first love. As her training progresses, Annie focuses increasingly on her growing endurance and prowess rather than her weight loss. Thus, from a gender perspective, Kenneally’s novel demystifies the weight-loss process as an intrinsically feminine one, aligning it with wellbeing rather than beauty, in contrast to previous young adult novels. This points to an evolution in the Young Adult Sports Fiction genre which should be addressed in order to evaluate the positive impact it may have on young female readers’ canons of corporeal beauty.
Keywords: Young Adult Sports Fiction; contemporary North American fiction; female body; sexuality; empowerment; eating disorders
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