Breathing Room

Marsha Hayles

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Evvy Hoffmeister is thirteen years old when her family brings her to Loon Lake Sanatorium to get cured of tuberculosis (TB). Evvy is frightened by her new surroundings; the rules to abide are harsh and the nurses equally rigid. But Evvy soon falls into step with the other girls in her ward. There’s Sarah, quiet but thoughtful; Pearl, who adores Hollywood glamour; and Dina, whose harshness conceals a deep strength. Together, the girls brave the difficult daily routines. Set in 1940 at a time of political unrest throughout the U.S. and Europe, this thought-provoking novel sheds light on a much-feared worldwide illness. Hundreds of thousands of people died each year of TB, and many ill children were sent away to sanatoriums to hopefully recover.

This is a masterful novel—both eloquent and moving—that gives voice to those who fought hard to overcome the illness.


Read an Excerpt

Breathing Room
CHAPTER 1Leaving(May 1940) 
FATHER JERKED THE CAR to the side of the road and stopped. "Are you okay, Evvy?" he asked, turning in his seat to look at me.I pitched my head back, gasping for air between coughs. Breathe! a voice inside me screamed. I dropped the Loon Lake brochure. A blast of heavy, moist air shot up from my lungs and exploded into the handkerchief I'd grabbed and pressed against my lips.But I could breathe again. "I'm okay, Father," I said, though my voice crackled as if it had just been hatched and never used before. "Really


Praise for Breathing Room

"A moving and well-wrought story.”--School Library Journal

"A quiet, sober story of a genuine heroine who survives a devastating disease with grace.”--Kirkus

"…a perfect read…”--Horn Book

"Hayles’s sympathetic characters and detailed account is complemented by historical documents and photos throughout.”--Publishers Weekly


Praise for The Feathered Crown:

“Hayles’s evocative, airy imagery gives wing to her rhyming verse.” —Publishers Weekly

“Unadorned, gracefully rhyming text is partnered with delicate watercolor illustrations, resulting in a gentle perspective . . . that will strike a chord with nature lovers and young children settling down to sleep.” —School Library Journal

Praise for He Saves the Day:

“The snappy text uses natural, unforced rhymes and repetition to great effect. . . . This book demands to be read aloud. The energy contained within coupled with the innocent joy of imaginative play are engaging and satisfying.” — School Library Journal

In the Press

BREATHING ROOM by Marsha Hayles | Kirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of BREATHING ROOM . Confined to a tuberculosis sanatorium in rural Minnesota, 13 year-old Evelyn Hoffmeister develops inner strength as she copes with loneliness, loss and the insidious disease that threatens her life.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Marsha Hayles

  • Marsha Hayles is the author of several books for young children. This is her first novel. She lives in Pittsford, New York, with her family.



Available Formats and Book Details

Breathing Room

Marsha Hayles



Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)