by Valentine Leonard
ISBN: 978-1-944884-24-6 (pbk.)
308 pages: $16.95
There’s been a breakthrough in green energy: The Center has discovered that children’s life-breath, or Kundalini, can be harvested. The children, the company’s energy source, are rendered comatose, attached to harvesting machines and left to wander in the Dreamscape. Carla is in a coma and her sister, Prune, is desperate to bring her back. But Carla has no intention of returning unless Prune finds their missing parents. So Prune sets out on a quest through consensual reality and the Dreamscape, a quest that will unearth family secrets, while the puppet masters behind The Center show great skill at keeping theirs. But beyond families’ white lies and politics’ self-serving mendacity, Even the Breath unveils a raw experience of love and loss behind which the big and small lies we agree to tell ourselves can no longer hide. If art is spirit in evidence, this book is a sacred text to help us navigate to our collective destiny.
Even the Breath combs the border between transcendence and escapism with its yogic bent and an eccentric cast of characters who take us from the desert of New Mexico to the South of France and back as they cross between between consensual reality and the Dreamscape, the realm where coma patients, meditators, dreamers, and lovers reconnect with the source of life, death, and rebirth.
The Center is an international corporation researching what it hopes will be a breakthrough in sustainable energy: harvesting children’s life-breath or Prana. As a result, ten-year old Carla is in a coma and her sister Prune, seventeen, is desperate to bring her back.
A meditation virtuoso who transitions at will between this world and Carla’s Dreamscape, Cuban janitor Ruben informs Prune that her sister thrives there in the company of spunky old Anastasia and her narcoleptic wolf. But Carla has no intention of returning unless Prune finds their missing parents. So Prune sets out, alone, on a quest that takes her to France.
Meanwhile, Ruben and Center gardener Grenadine are called to teach the children Kundalini yoga. With yoga, the kids regain control over their life force, garnering enough vitality to enlist help and rebel. The search for the girls’ parents unearths family secrets and the puppet masters behind The Center show great skill at keeping theirs. But beyond families’ white lies and politics’ self-serving lies, Even the Breath unveils a raw experience of love and loss behind which the big and small lies we agree to tell ourselves can no longer hide.
Leonard’s writing is incendiary, masterful, and pure. This forever fable celebrates the human condition, the swirl of light and dark in God’s coffee cup and the ascendency of Spirit over matter/inertia. She fills the space between each heartbeat with a higher love and the songs of benevolent sirens. Valentine gracefully conveys that there is no time to lose. Her great work is a supreme example of art as the antidote to scientific and religious dogma. Her book is a sacred text to help us navigate to our collective destiny. Great art is Spirit in evidence and as we turn these glowing pages, Spirit cannot be denied.
-Ana Brett & Ravi Singh, authors of Life in the Vast Lane
Valentine Leonard’s début novel, Even the Breath, is quite an undertaking — an adventure full of intrigue, bridging more than one continent and pitting good vs. evil and innocence against those who are jaded, shallow, and oblivious to the welfare of others. It’s a contemporary novel, filled with references to current events and personages, but it’s so much more than that. Ms. Leonard’s seeming encyclopedic and eclectic knowledge is on full display, as this work is replete with allusions to philosophy, metaphysics, art, music, politics, linguistics, and more. If you’re a lover of words, this novel is a feast. This is a very smart book, written by a very smart author for smart readers.
-Diane Brandon, author of Dream Interpretation and Born Aware – Memories of Those Spiritually Aware Since Birth.
Valentine Leonard’s prose is supple and colorful—eyelids are “cigarette paper eyelids,” sadness is “pigeon-colored,”‘ a four-star general has “the imagination of a hen”—and the story she tells in Even the Breath is fantastical, yet gritty. She has found her own brand of spiritual fairy tale, a theistic magic realism. It’s a poignant story and the characters Leonard conjures are memorable and fully realized. You’ll lose yourself in the narrative but take time to relish the music in her graceful and sinuous lines. This is an audacious debut.
-Corey Mesler, author of Memphis Movie and Robert Walker