Series: Breathing #1
Date Published: May 9, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Audiobook Length: 14 hrs and 19 mins
Audiobook Narrator: Kate Rudd
"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?"
He knows there’s something more to the girl sitting in the back of the class the moment he sees her. She’s beautiful, intelligent, and athletic – but she slips quietly through the crowded halls, trying not to exist. Determined to get to know the elusive girl, Evan soon discovers…
Emma Thomas is hiding a terrible a secret.
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 had this book on my TBR list for some time and it wasn’t until just recently when I noticed on Audible.com that my favoritest ever narrator, Kate Rudd, narrates the entire Breathing Series. (Can you say YAY!!!!!??????) SO of course I just had to buy it and listen to it and then read it on kindle and then listen to it again and now I shall attempt to review it.
This book is easily one of my top favorites of 2013. Everything that I normally would roll my eyes at and not enjoy is in this book: love triangle, teenage love angst, high school girly drama… and yet I LOVED THIS BOOK! Because of this book, I actually “get” why people DO enjoy love triangles in their story and angst and girly drama. But don’t let that fool you. This is a darker read.
The story is told through the first person narrative of Emma Thomas, a junior in high school that is living with her abusive aunt and disinterested uncle because her father died and her mother was no longer able to care for her. Emma’s aunt is ruthless in her treatment of Emma and yet, because of Emma’s attachment to her 2 cousins, she refuses to tell anyone of her situation, not even her best friend or boyfriend. Emma survives by trying to remain unnoticed by everyone around her. Until one day, the new kid at school takes notice! Evan and Emma’s relationship is wrought with over the top angst, but it works! I constantly wanted to skip ahead in my reading to get to the parts where Evan and Emma interact. Theirs is a tender relationship of advance and retreat. Evan wants to be Emma’s boyfriend because he finds her so “interesting”. Emma refuses to draw attention to herself by dating Evan and the two become friends instead.
We were engaged in a very intricate dance of touching without touching, knowing without saying, and feeling without expressing. We were friends walking along a ledge, a very think ledge- and I was too caught up in my heightened awareness of his existence to realize how close the ledge was to crumbling beneath my feet.
As for the love triangle, I will say that in the first read through (audio version) I found myself upset with Evan Mathews. Evan pushes Emma to open up and share and trust, which is difficult and stressful for her. I found myself liking Drew more. Drew makes Emma laugh. In the second read through, I liked Evan more, understanding where he was coming from and totally sympathizing. In fact, Evan stole my heart. He cares so much for Emma that he suffers every time Emma’s aunt harms her. Evan is stuck between trying to do the right thing and protect Emma, and doing what Emma wants and gaining her trust.
‘Even if you won’t, or can’t, tell me- I know. I do have to tell you that I can’t ever sit in a hospital waiting room again.’
‘I fell-‘ I tried to explain.
‘Don’t,’ Evan urged. ‘I know. Without you or Sara telling me, I know. So, even if you can’t tell me the truth, don’t lie. Don’t defend them like it’s okay. Because it’s not. I won’t let them do that to you again.’
I found myself getting so emotionally involved in Emma’s life that I wanted to call her to check on her just to make sure she was okay, and then I had to realize, whoa wait, Emma is not real, Rose. Ooops. Well she seems real to me! I cheered for Emma throughout this entire book and while yes, she did frustrate me at times, I felt that the reasons Emma gave for her actions (or lack thereof) were plausible. What made this book believable as well was that not everything was dark. There was plenty of comic relief, mainly from Emma’s best friend, Sara:
‘Well let’s get you back to fell before the devil realizes you’re not home.’ -Sara
Sara started choking. I turned toward her convulsions. ‘Sorry,’ she whispered, her face bright red. ‘Some bullshit caught in my throat.’
Overall, this was an engaging read that my review certainly does not due justice. I devoured every word wanting desperately for Emma to find a way out. I kept trying to understand why her aunt who do such cruel things to her and I think the fact that I (like Emma) could never understand what motivated her aunt made the abuse even more tragic. There is never a justification and there is no predicting the actions of a volatile heart. The ending blew my mind and made me super super glad that there was a second book in the series. For fans of Hopeless by Colleen Hoover or The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, Reason To Breathe is a must read!