Review: Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan

Publication Date: May 9th, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
RATING: 1 out of 5 Stars
“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 have deliberated whether or not to go ahead and actually write a review for this book because I know beforehand that this is going be ugly. Reading this book made me angry. Abuse is such a delicate, serious subject matter and this novel failed to highlight the difficult situations that abused people go through. Don’t get me wrong, the physical and verbal mistreatments that Emma went through was graphic and hard to take but what it failed to show was that ANY victim has hope and the ability to help themselves.

This book was drawn-out. In spite of all the abuse, Emma still found it in her to go to successions of parties – even, take note, A HOOK UP PARTY.  It offended me that Emma’s story focuses more on her inner struggle to stay away from the hot guy when her life was in danger on a daily basis. Then, when she got mad because the hot guy was finally getting wind of what was happening to her, she turned to another guy and decided that this other guy was better for her than the one who actually cared. WHAT.THE.EFFITY. It’s so messed up. Why did I keep reading, you ask? Simple. I wanted to know that Emma actually found a way out of her miserable life – but she didn’t.

Emma Thomas is probably one of the most irritating characters I’ve ever read. Her weakness and naivete made me furious. Her reason for not reporting the abuse? Weak at best. She was trying to protect her cousins from the reality that their mother (Emma’s aunt) was a monster but heck, they already know. She even said it in the beginning of the novel. The other reason was that she was terrified that the kids will be taken away from their home – okay, I’ll give her that. But who’s to say that her aunt is not capable of doing the same thing to her kids? Wouldn’t it be better if she’d cried foul now and save her cousins from perhaps, an inevitable fate? She had a way out but because she’s blind and naive, she believed the best of the monsters that she called her aunt and uncle. And really, this is what I don’t get. There’s to be a sequel. I’m asking WHY, when the entire book was wasted on stories about parties, makeovers and jealous, petty teens? The abuse just kind of took a backseat.

I also don’t get how her so-called best friend knew about the abuse and yet she was more worried about Emma’s anger than perhaps, Emma’s life. This girl was beaten with any object her aunt could get her hands on. She’s taken blows to the head, she’s been poisoned, and thrown against a glass door, cutting her everywhere. I’m pretty sure her parents would gladly take Emma in if she moved out. But she chose not to do anything about it. Is this really the reality of the people related to an abused party? Do we really just stand by and watch it happen over and over again? I hope not. We report animal abuse, for pete’s sake. When do we actually stop and say, I’m sorry but you’re not that clumsy. You don’t hit the door or fall down the stairs, or trip over air on a regular basis. 

This review is difficult to write. I hate offending people simply because I wanted to express my opinion.  I don’t know the author’s background. I don’t know if she’s speaking from experience and I meant no disrespect, but this novel failed completely. The way Emma’s story was told made light of her situation. It was a waste of my time and my anger. What is the whole point of this book? What is the moral lesson I can take as I walk away from this? The answer is NOTHING. I walked away furious because Emma was in a more perilous situation than when she started. The abusive aunt didn’t get what she deserved.

I am a part of a minority who didn’t like this book. You can take this review for what it is but at the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is yours.

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