“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 while 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 – but at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.
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.
Love helped me live life instead of just survive it.
She has straight A’s, is a soccer star at her school, and attractive. She doesn’t speak much to or hang out with anyone, only with her best friend, Sarah. She’s the girl who hopes to go unnoticed and to make it through high school to attend college far from home. She has a good reason to keep her head down and try to be a ghost of a person; she’s regularly abused at home. Being noticed at school, or even worse, at home will only lead to hurt. Her classmates believe she’s stuck up and her family at home believes she’s worthless. This girl could be anyone, but in Reason to Breathe, her name is Emily “Emma” Thomas.
My world was delicately balanced, but the scales never hung even. When something improved, something else had to crumble.
Rebecca Donovan has done a fantastic job with this book! While reading, I was on the edge of my seat. Emma not only has to live a lie by pretending that everything is alright at home, but with also her first love interest in Evan. She’s walking the fine line of trying to be normal so he doesn’t know what’s it’s like for her at home. Emma has to live this way to protect herself. Any happiness she has in the world can be shattered and broken by her abusive aunt, Carol, and by an uncle who turns a blind eye to the torture inflicted upon her.
Throughout the story, I was trying to figure out how her relationship with Evan could work. He just thinks that Emma has strict parents and knows nothing about her home life. In a normal teenager’s life, if they break curfew they are grounded or have privileges taken away. They may act in a cavalier manner depending on how they expect their parents to react. However for Emma, if she breaks the rules she could end up with bruises, sprains, or something worse. So every normal boyfriend/girlfriend interaction Emma had with Evan left me happy yet frightened. I was happy because she felt freedom during those times, but afraid because I never knew what Carol was going to do to her when she got home.
I knew there was going to be pain whether I did anything wrong or not – so maybe I should do something to actually deserve it.
Don’t get me wrong, while the novel has definite dark undertones because of the abuse elements, there is a strong love story as well; a twist your heart love story. I fell for Evan who is a stand up guy, he’s exactly what Emma needs. He’s honest, patient, kind, and funny, but not in a saccharine way. I know Emma has to endure two more years of living under her aunt and uncle’s roof and those years seem like an eternity, but her having Evan makes it feel doable. Sarah, her best friend, is also a safe harbor. Being the only one to know what Emma goes through, she makes an extra effort to help her live as normal a life as she can while she’s away from her version of hell.
I knew in that moment, I would never love anyone in my life the way I loved Evan Mathews.
This book has one HELL of a cliff hanger. I thank goodness the sequel Barely Breathing was already out when I started it. I wouldn’t have been able to handle not knowing what happens next.
* Previously posted on Literati Literature Lovers