Reason to Breathe (Breathing, # 1)
By: Rebecca Donovan
Published: May 10th 2011
Genre: YA/NA, Contemporary
Source: Personal Kindle Library
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Goodreads description--"No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?" In the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut, where most people worry about what to be seen in and who to be seen with, Emma Thomas would rather not be seen at all. She’s more concerned with feigning perfection while pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises - not wanting anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. Without expecting it, she finds love. It challenges her to recognize her own worth - but at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide. Reason to Breathe is an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl’s fragile grasp of hope.
I initially put Reason to Breathe on my TBR list because I saw a Facebook post where Colleen Hoover said that she loved this series—or this book, I can’t remember exactly. And then I saw via BookBub that Reason to Breathe was on sale for $0.99 and I snatched it up. Lately I’ve been in a contemporary mood so I decided to start this one on a whim, and boy am I glad that I did.
I LOVED this book!
It truly didn’t take long for Rebecca Donovan to hook me into her story. Emma’s father passed away a while back and her mother pretty much couldn’t deal. She turned to alcohol and such and eventually became unfit to take care of Emma. So Emma was shipped off to live with her aunt and uncle and two cousins. Her aunt, however, despises the “burden” that Emma being in her house has placed upon her. The reader is somewhat slowly introduced to how truly horrific Carol is and the depth of abuse Emma has to endure at her hand. I hated Carol…she is everything you expect her to be and more.
At this point in her life, Emma’s one bright spot is her best friend Sara. Sara has put two and two together despite Emma’s constant denial, avoidance, and defending. Sara was a great best friend. I loved her in this book. She was the perfect blend of protective and supportive. She wants so badly to do what’s right and protect Emma while at the same time being torn with the possibility of making things worse for Emma. I don’t think Emma could have had a better best friend. And I can’t rave about Sara enough.
Along with loving Sara, I loved Evan too. He comes into Emma’s world so unexpectedly. As the description says, Emma does everything she can to be invisible. Sara is very popular so Emma can’t completely blend in being always beside her, but she tries her hardest. It's quickly evident that Emma isn't as invisible as she hopes to me. Evan in particular can’t stop watching her. He can’t leave her alone. He’s fascinated and drawn to her. And I loved it. His persistence was admiring, and I think I fell harder for him with each page that I turned as Emma did too. Of course, Emma fights her feelings for him and a relationship with him because she can’t risk him finding out about her secret.
Not surprisingly, Emma’s secret isn’t one that can stay hidden. Little things clue Evan in on what might be happening with Emma. From day one he knows how strict the rules are at her houses, and he works constantly to find ways to spend time with her and see her around the rules and without her aunt and uncle knowing. Sara plays a supportive role in this of course.
Emma herself is an extremely likeable character. Despite the horrible circumstances of her life, she doesn’t really seem to have a victim mentality. She’s scared, sure. But she doesn’t want to let her aunt’s behavior towards herself change her. She doesn’t want to be a person filled with hate and anger despite having every reason in the world to do just that. Emma is exactly the type of character that I like to read about. Of course, she does have her moments of decision making that makes me roll my eyes a bit but nothing too drastic or too frustrating.
I truly have so much more to say about this book, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. The ending was….well….unclear, and I was frantic to know one specific thing that I was unclear about. So I read the description of the next book in the series and was able to breathe easy. Rebecca Donovan blew me away. I will most definitely be finishing this series. And I will most definitely be reading her other work once it’s out there. Officially added to the “auto buy” list.
Reason to Breathe gets 5 stars from me. I can’t recommend this book enough. It does address some difficult and heavy situations, but not in a way that make you feel as if the character has no hope. Emma is a great leading lady, and I’m thankful for Rebecca Donovan for writing a character who’s spirit isn’t easily broken. Evan brings hope into Emma’s life and hope into this book. He makes the story worth reading. And Sara supports Emma in such a way that I wish she were my best friend. Read this book. Please.
Have you read Reason to Breathe already? What did you think? Let me know!