A Mouthful of Air
a novel by
Now a major motion picture starring Amanda Seyfried and Finn Wittrock!
Sony’s Stage 6 Films has unveiled the film trailer for A Mouthful of Air, starring Oscar nominee Amanda Seyfried (Mank) and two-time Emmy nominee Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story), releasing exclusively in theaters on October 29, 2021.
Compared to seminal feminist works such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, A Mouthful of Air is a powerful, tragic statement on motherhood, family, and survival.
A Mouthful of Air is a compassionate and wrenching portrait of Julie Davis, a young wife and mother torn between the love she feels for her family and the voice in her head that insists they’d be better off without her.
We meet Julie several weeks after her suicide attempt, on the eve of her son’s first birthday. Grateful to be alive, Julie tries her best to appreciate every moment—“this tree, that passing car, the pretzel guy up ahead on the corner. She has, for whatever reason, been given a second chance”—but her emotional demons are unrelenting, and she is slowly and quietly losing the battle.
Within the narrative of A Mouthful of Air is an argument about the nature of depression—its causes, cures, and the price it exacts from its victims. With spare, elegant prose, this brutally honest portrayal of family and self illuminates the power and complexity of the human psyche.
Originally published in 2003, A Mouthful of Air now includes an afterword by author Adrienne Miller.
WNYC's All Of It with Alison Stewart interview with Amy Koppelman, August 16, 2021
"Author Amy Koppelman joins us to discuss her debut novel, A Mouthful Of Air, which explores the mind of Julie Davis, a privileged 26-year-old New Yorker suffering from postpartum depression after giving birth to her son, Teddy. The novel is being reissued after twenty years in conjunction with the release of the new film, A Mouthful of Air, written and directed by Koppelman, and starring Amanda Seyfried."
Reading By Writers: Amy Koppelman, August 12, 2021
Amy Koppelman reads from her book A Mouthful of Air and is in conversation with Pam Houston
Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, Season 10, Episode 56 (August 2021)
"No one tells you how scary it is to become a mom. You're responsible for a whole other life." Amy Koppelman joined host Zibby Owens for an IG Live to talk about her book, A Mouthful of Air, which is being re-released to celebrate the premiere of its film adaptation.
Always with a Book's Leslie Lindsay interviews Amy Koppelman, August 4, 2021
Amy Koppelman talks about her very personal book—how the feelings & emotions are psychologically resonate, but the story is fiction, plus Amanda Seyfried starring in A Mouthful of Air, postpartum depression, and so much more!
Publishers Weekly Talks with Amy Koppelman by Claire Kirch, July 14, 2021
PW spoke with Koppelman about why she wrote A Mouthful of Air, what she would do differently if she wrote such a novel today, what it was like writing and directing the film adaptation, and how Joan Didion’s encouragement years ago reassured her as an author.
Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.
"A Mouthful Of Air, which explores the mind of Julie Davis, a privileged 26-year-old New Yorker suffering from postpartum depression after giving birth to her son, Teddy. The novel is being reissued after twenty years in conjunction with the release of the new film, A Mouthful of Air, written and directed by Koppelman, and starring Amanda Seyfried."
—from WNYC's All Of It with Alison Stewart interview with Amy Koppelman, August 16, 2021
"[A] stunning and elegant portrayal of the rawness of postpartum depression, told in elegant and authentic, sparse prose."
—Leslie Lindsay, from the Always with a Book interview with Amy Koppelman, August 4, 2021
"[A] smart, sensitive first novel."
"Koppelman nails every detail."
—The Boston Globe
"This is a story so convincing that never again will you pass a new mother on the street without wondering what's behind her mouthful of smiles."
—Judy D’Mello, The New York Observer
"Koppelman's prose is as spare and powerful as poetry."
—Mindi Dickstein, St. Petersburg Times/Tampa Bay Times (read the full review of A Mouthful of Air on Tampa Bay Times)
"Lean, minutely detailed, and frighteningly convincing."
"This short work offers a great deal for readers to ponder and discuss."
—Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter Group (read the full book review)
"A Mouthful of Air is by no means a happy book, but it is a fantastically written one. And with a debut movie, I imagine this book is going to have a much deserved, and long awaited moment in the public imagination.... The story is a harrowing dive into the psyche of a woman who has the intense pressures of motherhood piled atop her pre-existing clinical depression. The book chronicles her attempt to wrestle with her mental demons, and enjoy a life which she is trying to be grateful for."
—Nolan Sullivan, Peiskos (Read the full review of A Mouthful of Air on Peiskos)
"Koppelman has depicted a woman’s struggle with depression, and postpartum depression in particular, in such an incredibly visceral, realistic way... Recommended for those who like: The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton, The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath, Want by Lynn Steger Strong, 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman."
—Beth Mowbray, @b.isforbooks on Instagram
"I found it full of such poetic prose, with powerful and tragic statements regarding mental health, being a new mother, family and isolation… A Mouthful of Air builds and builds until the very last page and it punched me right in the gut. This is a book I will not forgot anytime soon. I admire Amy Koppelman's bravery in writing about the darkness that lives inside people that some never experience or try to understand."
—Peyton Biggs, @bookinhand_ on Instagram
"Koppelman draws her audience in and never lets loose."
—Rocky Mountain News
"This new writer should definitely be considered a rising star."
"A Mouthful of Air is powerful, accurate, and insightful."
—Body & Soul Magazine
"[A] novel that quietly builds suspense to the last page."
—Dallas Morning News
"Koppleman tells Julie’s story in a spare, staccato prose, a rhythm that seems to keep pace with her heroine’s methodical efforts to achieve wholeness. Koppleman gestures to possible causes for Julie’s profound depression, but she understands the etiology of this illness does not reside in circumstance. She tells an ultimately harrowing story, but guides it with restraint and honesty, and no small amount of courage."
—Patty Grossman, Lilith Magazine, (Read the full review of A Mouthful of Air)
"The Bell Jar for moms."
—East Bay Express
"Written with a dreamlike intensity... Koppelman is unwaveringly honest and graceful in her storytelling."
“Anyone who has suffered from depression will recognize the distant, almost ethereal rhythm of Julie’s days.”
"So visceral is Koppelman's prose, the reader truly feels the depth of Julie's spirit and the toll of her continual struggle to keep herself afloat.
"[Amy Koppelman] does a tremendous job conveying the point that, although Julie is surrounded with some degree of affluence, none of it can pacify the mental anguish of depression... The mood of the novel is a clear insight into the depth of talent Koppelman possesses as a writer."
—David Exum, BookReporter
"In this riveting and disturbing novel, Koppelman speaks for women... whose internal battles pass unremarked by society at large."
—Luan Gaines, Curled Up With a Good Book
"Amy Koppelman offers a message of compassion as well as a scathing indictment of modern American life from a fresh, wholly original angle."
"This searing and honest first novel offers both compelling narrative and stunning insight into the crippling grip of depression."
"A well written, harrowing story (told with glaring honestly)."
—Shannon Bigham, BookLoons
"A Mouthful of Air evokes two classics of pre-feminist writing from the last 19th century: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Awakening by Kate Chopin."
—New York Free Press
"This debut novel is nothing short of astonishing: read it and weep."
—Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of The Four Temperaments
"Eminently worth reading."
—Dr. Morton I. Teicher, National Jewish Post & Opinions
"This is a novel to share with a colleague... It is a story that reminds us to care deeply about our patients."
—Nancy Glimm, C.S.W., Psychiatric Services
"A Mouthful of Air is a stunning first novel, which offers no hope to alleviate the pain of despair. The joy is all in Koppelman's gift in telling a true and moving story."
—Maureen Howard, author of Facts of Life and Natural History
BOOK CLUB & READER GUIDE: Questions and Topics for Discussion
The poem “The Girl” by Marie Howe, from the collection What the Living Do: Poems, serves as an epigraph for A Mouthful of Air. What might have drawn the author to this particular poem for this story about Julie?
We see Julie’s childhood copy of The Velveteen Rabbit being passed down to her by her mother: what was interesting about the particular section that Julie sought out? Why do you think she might have been drawn to this passage, focused on “becoming Real”?
More than once, we see Julie noticing the apartment window across the courtyard from hers: what does she observe there? Why do you think this was so noteworthy to Julie?
A seemingly simple trip to the grocery stores goes horribly wrong for Julie—what happens both internally and externally for her? What was the occasion that she was planning for? Why do you think the pressure of this task was so impossible for her?
How does Julie feel about Georgie’s new role in their home? Does Julie feel like she has a choice in this matter?
Julie and her family are clearly wealthy, living in posh neighborhoods, having live-in help, access to doctors and most anything they could want: why do you think the author chose this particular character to portray a mother suffering from post-partum depression?
What are some of Julie’s descriptions of living with depression? Did Julie’s story further your understanding of the experience? Was it similar to something you have experienced or witnessed? Did you learn anything you did not know before about post-partum depression in particular?
We see Julie interacting with and analyzing her exchanges with people that she is paying or that work for her: taxi drivers, stores clerks, elevator operators, nannies. In what ways does this novel address issues of class?
Julie frequently observes other women to get ideas of what is appropriate for her to also do: what are some of these instances? Why do you think she depends so heavily on the behavior of others in order to determine what her own behavior should be?
Julie goes to regular psychotherapy appointments with Dr. Edelman: what is their relationship like? Does Julie feel as though this is helping with her depression?
What are the recurring phrases that Julie repeats to herself? Why do you think these mantras are at war in Julie’s mind?
After Julie’s suicide attempt, she is back home and living with her son and husband, Ethan: what is their relationship like? Does he know why his wife tried to end her life? Were you surprised by any of her husband’s reactions? Do you think there are things he could have done differently?
Julie visits her mother, Harriet, a short while after Julie’s suicide attempt: what is their interaction like? What are the various things that her mother is focused on or concerned about? How do you think this affects Julie?
“If you look happy, then you are happy” is a phrase that Julie’s mother has repeated to her throughout her life: Does Julie believe it? Are there any instances where she is truly happy?
Julie frequently reflects on memories of her father from her childhood: what different aspects of their relationship are revealed over the course of the novel? What parts surprised you? How do you think Julie’s relationship with her father may have affected those with her own children? Why does Julie choose not to tell her husband, Ethan, that she saw her father at the basketball game?
Intergenerational trauma—trauma that gets passed down from one generation to subsequent generations—can create symptoms of depression and self-destructive behaviors. Considering the story of Julie and her parents, and Julie with her own children, what role do you think intergenerational trauma might have played?
Despite having a doting and devoted husband, Julie envisions him having an affair and moving on to a life without her—why do you think this is?
Color plays an important role in this book: why do you think the author chose to do this? What are some of the contrasts in color and décor between their first home and their second home? Why do you think Julie might have made these changes to her surroundings?
When Julie discovers that she is pregnant with a second child, what are her thoughts and reactions? How does her husband react when he learns the news? How do they decide what to do next? How does Julie feel after learning that she will have a little girl?
Julie and her husband and doctors create a plan for when she will and will not take her medication, carefully considering her well-being as well as her unborn baby’s well-being: What were their concerns? What are Julie’s reasons for not following that plan? What influenced Julie to make this choice? Do you know anyone in your own life who has struggled with the decision to remain on medication that might come with undesired side-effects or sacrifices?
What do we learn was the immediate cause of Julie’s attempt to end her own life? As we learn more about her family and childhood, what else do you think might have contributed to her making this type of decision? Do you think she loves her son? Why might she think they would be better off without her?
Does Julie feel as though she has power, control, or choice? What are some examples throughout the novel where she does? What are some examples where she does not, or feels as though she does not? Having inside knowledge to some details of her childhood, what do you think shaped these ways of thinking?
Is the ending of this novel what you expected? What, if anything, do you think could have been done to prevent this situation?
If you have seen the film adaptation of A Mouthful of Air, talk about their similarities and differences. Were you surprised by any of them? What did you like more? What did you miss?
If you have read Amy Koppelman’s other novels, I Smile Back and Hesitation Wounds, would you say they have major themes in common? Talk about the similarities and differences.
Amy Koppelman is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: A Mouthful of Air, I Smile Back, and Hesitation Wounds, a 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award winner. She produced and co-adapted the film adaptation of I Smile Back, starring Sarah Silverman, who received a SAG award nomination for the role. The film premiered at the Sundance, Toronto, and Deauville film festivals. Her latest film, A Mouthful of Air, is her first undertaking as a screenwriter, director, and producer. Amy lives in New York City with her family. She is an outspoken advocate for women’s mental health.
Adrienne Miller (author of the afterword) is the author of the novel The Coast of Akron and the memoir In the Land of Men. She was the literary editor of Esquire.
Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from A Mouthful of Air !
View A Mouthful of Air sneak peek on Issuu.com
FORMAT: Paperback (Gatefold)
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387141
DIGITAL ISBN: 9781953387158
RELEASE DATE: 8/17/2021
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"
Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).
Movie Tie-In Edition:
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387196
RELEASE DATE: 09/28/2021
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"