Author: Rebecca Donovan
Series: Breathing #1
Publication date: June 4th, 2013
Synopsis (according to Goodreads):
"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.
I purchased this book along with the second in the series to read before meeting the author in June at Book Bash. I have been branching out into the contemporary genre for a while now so I figured this book would be a good addition to my library when I saw it. I had made it my personal goal to read at least one or two books from almost every author there in an attempt to be able to express my honest opinions to the authors when I meet them. I figured Reason to Breathe was worth a gander.
Emma has had an incredibly hard life. Her father died when she was very young and her mother became a shell of a person afterwards. When her mother decided the comfort of random men and the answer to her problems were at the bottom of a bottle Emma was sent to live with her father's brother and his wife. She didn't know the hell she was entering at twelve years old. Emma's aunt is a tyrant in her life and her uncle is blind to what is going on around him. Emma's aunt, Carol, has no qualms about physical violence and unleashes her wrath on Emma any chance she gets. To avoid undue stress to her young cousins, Emma stays silent about the abuse. All the while she is attempting to achieve perfection in hope of leaving her tumultuous living environment for that of an Ivy League school. She didn't plan for Evan.
Evan is the light in Emma's dark world, besides her best friend, Sara. But Evan doesn't understand her world. He doesn't understand the strict rules Emma has to follow nor why she is always so fearful of her aunt and uncle's reactions to her teenage rebellions. He just wants her to trust him, but Emma can trust no one but herself. All she can is do is exist from one day to the next and hope that she can make it until the day she can escape. Evan is a distraction she doesn't need but one she can't seem to stay away from.
Where the synopsis appeals to my inner romantic and bleeding heart, the story itself was a bit lackluster. I was immediately drawn in by the plight of Emma. She had to toe the line between her world of abuse and tight reigns while trying to achieve greatness so she can go further in her life. She was a bit niave for my taste. She didn't recognize when she was receiving male attention and had absolutely no clue how to navigate the dating pool. She would rather deny a relationship exists than acknowledge it. She pushes people away and bottles everything up. For an abuse victim, I was expecting to like Emma immediately, but that spark just didn't happen for me.
The romance between Evan and Emma seemed forced. It didn't flow well at all. Normally when a female protagonist rejects a connection with her male counterpart she is still inexplicably drawn to him. That didn't happen here. When Emma said "I don't like him" she bloody well proved it.
The writing was sporadic and non-sequential. There would be scenes referenced by the characters that were never actually in the book. It was them simply talking about something that happened that was not actually written in the text. I did a lot of back flipped trying to find one scene in particular that was VITAL to the story that was just nowhere to be found.
However... The cliffhanger at the end makes the possibility of reading the second book not entirely implausible.