Breathing, book one
“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—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―at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.
One girl’s story of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and her precarious grasp of hope: Reason to Breathe is the first installment of the acclaimed Breathing Series.
MY RATING: 4 STARS
3.5 stars is a little more accurate, but it was good enough to round up.
Good thing I decided to take on a book bingo challenge, as it gave me the push I needed to finally start this series. All three books have been sitting on a shelf for about a year, and I haven’t touched them until now. Now, I’m kinda wondering what took me so long.
I had issues with Reason to Breathe, don’t get me wrong. I find it hard to believe that a girl being abused at home manages to be so well-rounded and I really didn’t buy that Emma goes from unapproachable to one of the most sought-after girls in school overnight, just for showing up at a football game. Her initial reaction to Evan was a little over the top and didn’t feel in line with her character, based on what I already knew about her and even what I learned about her later. The characters themselves felt two-dimensional at best, and I’ve definitely read better writing, especially in the YA genre.
But, BUT, I don’t often find a book in the YA genre that causes so many (take a wild guess) feels. That’s right, they’re back again, the gut-twisting, heart-wrenching cavalcades of emotion that leave you a jacked-up mess inside. Whatever it’s lacking elsewhere, Reason to Breathe doesn’t skimp on heart. I had no choice but to feel everything with Emma, though there were times I wanted to shake some sense into her for being such a tragic hero and enduring Carol’s abuse for the greater good. I kept urging her to stand up to that–er, freaking witch, and was so proud of her when she did. She’s got a long way to go, but she’s got a better sense of her own worth.
I could have done without the boy trouble (how does a girl go from “invisible” to most eligible bachelorette in 2.2 seconds?!) but I loved Evan. So sweet and thoughtful, and always trying to look out for Emma while helping her to live, not just survive. Best friend Sara was great too, and if I found her frustrating at times, it was because she came from a priveliged environment and didn’t always see where Emma was coming from.
On a side note, as a home schooled student, I was fascinated by Emma’s high school experience. Is it really like the stereotypes? The cliques, the gossip, the whole nine yards?
And of all possible cliff hanger endings! It was written like a dream sequence, so I had to read it a few times to be sure what I thought was happening was actually happening, but holy cow! Onto the next book, pronto!