Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thank God that the sequel is coming out in May. I got to the last page of this book and absolutely freaked out. The ending is raw and real and absolutely emotional to the extreme. It is hard when you become emotionally invested in a character and you read them going through something like what Emily went through can make you forget that you loved the rest of the book. That is just a risk an author goes outside the box of what readers generally expect to happen. Had I not gone online immediately after reading the last page and checking to see if there was a sequel or anything that would give me any sort of closure, I probably would have been writing a completely different review. Without hope that things were going to get better, I might have just chucked my kindle across the room.
The story is about Emily, a high school girl who lives with her Aunt and Uncle. Her Aunt is abusive, both physically and verbally and her Uncle turns a blind eye, choosing to pretend he doesn't know what is going on in his own house. She has two younger cousins and to the majority of the outside world, the family looks like a perfect one. The younger kids are happy, well adjusted, involved in different activities and adored by their parents. Emily goes through life just trying to stay in the background, do what she has to do to stay under the radar to avoid the wrath of her aunt and trying to keep coping until she can leave for college.
She has one great friend named Sara who knows what is going on but hasn't gotten Emily to come out and actually admit it yet. Sara pretty much keeps her sane throughout the story. She is an awesome character. She provides some levity, laugh out loud moments and a voice of reason throughout the whole story. Oh, yeah and it is a long story, just to let you know. I loved the length of it though some parts I thought were not completely necessary. *coughDrewcough* There are also some deleted scenes on the authors website that are pretty stinking awesome. I loved the New York scene!
So Emily is going through life in the shadows, just kind of going through the motions when along comes Evan. Even just moved to the town and is immediately interested in Emily. What an awesome character. He's the perfect mix of caring, cocky, funny, sweet and yet still real. He gets pissed when Emily won't trust him, he is hurt when she won't see him...he's just an all around awesome character. The way that Evan and Sara both love Emily is perfect. They both care so much and yet are still teenagers who want to help their friend but are unsure how to go about it. Emily has told them repeatedly that she is alright, that she doesn't need help and that they can't tell anyone about what happens at her house. It's heartbreaking, it really is.
Obviously, there is a lot about the book I like. I was reading some other reviews and noticed that one of the huge things that people didn't like is that Emily didn't just leave. I thought like that for awhile but the more I read, the more I understood her viewpoint. Her cousins were happy, their parents were good to them even if they weren't good to Emily. She didn't want to disrupt their entire childhood, cause a big scene and scandal when she felt like she could handle everything going on for 500 and some days she had left until she could leave for college. What I didn't understand was the animosity towards Emily from Carol. I don't get why she hated her so much. I don't think it was ever fully explained and I am hoping maybe it is brought up more in the second book.
It's not a book for the faint-hearted, that is for sure but I really enjoyed it. I loved seeing Emily open up to Evan as the book progressed, I loved the true friendship between Emily and Sara. The extent that Evan was willing to go to in order to keep Emily safe was touching and admirable. I am soooo glad I only have to wait a little under a month for the sequel!
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