PJV Quickie: I have mixed feelings about Reason to Breathe: on the one hand it pulled me in and kept me reading (and reading, and reading, aaaannnnddd reading), to see how things would end, but on the other hand, I had some problems with it that left me frustrated throughout the book.
Review: Emma Thomas lives with her Aunt and Uncle and their two children. Emma’s father (her Uncle’s brother) died when she was young and her mother was incapable of caring for her, so she dropped Emma off on her Aunt and Uncle’s doorstep about four years ago. During that time Emma’s life has been hell – her Aunt hates her and is physically and mentally abusive; her Uncle turns a blind eye and pretends he doesn’t see it. At school, Emma is closed off and unfriendly, not wanting to add any complications to her already difficult life. Her only friend is Sara, who has an idea of what goes on at Emma’s house but doesn’t know how bad it really is.
Then, Evan Matthews comes to town. Gorgeous, smart, athletic, and interested in Emma. Emma tries to rebuff his advances but Evan sees something in Emma that he can’t ignore and pursues her until she agrees to be friends – nothing more. And Evan is okay with that, for now.
Emma’s plan is to survive day-by-day until she graduates and can get away to college, and she knows she can do it with Sara and Evan to support her. Along the way, Emma learns how to live and love, and that makes her more determined than ever to survive.
Okay, so…my thoughts. They’re kind of all over the place. As I said in my PJV Quickie, the story did pull me in. Emma is a sympathetic character and I immediately felt sorry for her and the situation she had been placed in. Her Aunt was horrible and should have been in jail. Her Uncle should have interceded. And while I don’t understand her rationale for not telling, I do understand that sometimes victims just can’t do it. That being said, her BFF knew what was going on and even if she didn’t know the whole story she knew enough as the daughter of a JUDGE to know she should tell. Once Evan figured it out, HE should have told someone.
The other thing I couldn’t figure out was, if her Aunt hated her so much why was she allowed to do so many extracurricular activities? I think she played 3 sports (soccer, basketball, and maybe one more sport) and that’s how she planned to go to college – on a scholarship. But if the Aunt wouldn’t let her eat food she didn’t specifically request on a list, I just don’t see her paying for sports. I checked with twitter and apparently in some places playing sports is free so I guess that’s possible. But I still don’t see how the Aunt would have let her do anything she enjoyed, and she obviously enjoyed sports very much.
My last complaint is that Reason to Breathe was overly long. Ms. Donovan is very descriptive and I think several scenes could have been cut out without the reader underestimating Emma’s situation. There were a lot of scenes that could have been put up as “deleted scenes” or extras on her website as a treat for readers.
BUT… I really enjoyed Emma and Evan’s story. Their relationship is set to “slow burn” and it’s nice to read. Because she’s been so closed-off, Emma’s awkward and hesitant around Evan and it’s very sweet. Reading him pull her out of her shell and begin to want more was captivating and honestly, that’s why I stuck with it.
I’ve seen complaints about the end but I didn’t really see it as a cliffhanger. If you read carefully you can see how things turn out. I have started reading the next book, Barely Breathing, and am finding myself a bit frustrated by Emma’s new situation and her refusal to stop being a carpet for people to walk all over.
Recommendations: Fans of super-angsty New Adult romance should enjoy Reason to Breathe. Also, if you like long books then Reason to Breathe should be appealing. I would not recommend Reason to Breathe if you’re looking for a book to ‘break into’ the YA genre.