Reason To Breathe (Breathing #1) by Rebecca Donovan

Reason To Breathe (The Breathing Series, #1)


"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.


Man Reason To Breathe made me incredibly angry. It has been a while since I have read a book that has made me have such a strong negative reaction. I had to give myself a few days to calm down enough that this review will hopefully not be too crazy harsh, but it will probably get ranty. I just hated pretty much everyone in the book for different reasons.

*Note this may get ugly, this book really made me angry, and some spoilers as well*

Let's see where to start? How about with our main character Emma. I hated Emma. Hated her. She pissed me off so much at different times. So Emma's dad passed away a few years ago and afterwards her mother "got sick" and was unable to care for her. She then moved in with her aunt and uncle where she is horribly physically abused by her aunt. For no real reason other than her aunt is crazy and evil. This has been going on for 4 years. I don't understand why Emma never fought back. It is not like she was raised in an abusive home so it was a learned behavior or something. No she moved when she was a teenager from a happy home to this. And she never does anything about it. She knows what she would need to do to stop the abuse, how easy it would be to make one phone call or talk to someone, but she doesn't. She can take it. She will deal with the abuse because...Why? Well she has some messed up reasoning that if she says something, if she gets her aunt to stop abusing her, then her younger cousins will get taken away from their mom and she just can't do that. Yes, that would be such a shame if your cousins get taken away from the evil lady. I mean seriously do you think she will stop once you move away to college? You think she is not capable of turning on her own children once you are not there to take the abuse? You want to take that chance and leave them with the monster they have for a mom? Seriously? I mean the kids know enough of what is going on and you are just going to leave them when they are young and defenseless. Great. Wonderful. Love you for that. If Emma would have been a broken down person, would have tried to do whatever she could to not anger her aunt (even though we know that is impossible), would have been weak and not selectively strong, I could have gotten behind this story. As it was she seemed like she let the abuse happen. I know that is horrible, I know abuse it terrible, I know it is hard to get out of these situations, but Emma didn't seem like she was having a hard time trying to get out. She didn't seem like she was the weak abused girl. She was the strong when she wanted to be girl who still manages to get a 4.0 gpa and play on 3 varsity sports teams and do a ton of extra curricular activities and go to parties and have fun and sneak off to do normal teenager things. It just didn't make sense. Her rational and reasoning for many of the things didn't make sense.

So Emma is not allowed to do anything besides school and school activities. When she meets Evan she is horrible to him, but it is kind of amusing. She likes him, but she doesn't want to. She wants to still be invisible with just one friend until she goes away to college. Evan doesn't let her push him away and they start hanging out. So then she thinks how they can't be more than friends. Why? Well she can't date. She can't go out and do things like normal teenagers. Only she does start to sneak off and do things with Evan. So she does date, but pretends not to. It didn't make any sense. That plus she keeps telling her bff, Sarah, that Evan doesn't like her like that, even though he has told her numerous times he wants to be more than friends. It got to the point that it was ridiculous how she sounded and acted. I was just like really? You are really going to pretend you have your head stuck in the sand? Okay. I liked Evan though. He was my favorite character by far.

Now let's talk about Emma's only friend. What the heck is wrong with Sarah? Why in the world would she not tell someone about the horrible abuse Emma has to deal with? She sees the incredibly horrible things the aunt did to her, and yet Sarah is too afraid of making Emma angry to tell someone about it. Even her own parents. I mean...I don't get it. You saw her shoulder all messed up and bruised, you saw her back bleeding from the gashes from the leather belt the aunt used, you saw how she could hardly walk when her aunt hit her with something in the back, how she couldn't even change her shirt the pain was so bad, and let her still try to play basketball which ended with her in the hospital because of the abuse and STILL you do not say anything. Is Emma being nice to you worth letting her die by her aunts hand? I mean seriously. If I saw any of that on anyone and I knew who was doing it to them I would talk to someone. My friends in high school, if I knew they were being abused I might not know what to do about it but I would talk to my parents or a trusted teacher or the guidance counselor or someone! Sarah pissed me off so much. I don't understand how she could just stand by and watch her friend get so injured again and again and again. And she knows Emma doesn't even tell her everything or what really happens. I just can't imagine being that horrible of a friend. It is not like it is just some bruises or something, the injuries Emma has are serious, could easily be life threatening if the aunt just went a tiny bit farther. But let's not tell anyone.

There was the one time, when Sarah sees Emma's back after being beaten with a belt, when Sarah says this is enough. You need to tell someone or I will. What does Emma do? Verbally attacks her in a vicious vicious way and then leaves. Afterwards she feels terrible, but Sarah still doesn't say anything to anyone. At first I thought thank you! Finally she will get help whether she wants it or not, but no Sarah does nothing. Then Sarah ignores Emma for a bit and Emma just lets her. She feels bad and wants to apologize, but Sarah isn't waiting for her at her locker or in her car or anywhere so there is nothing Emma can do....I mean she doesn't know Sarah's schedule and couldn't possibly try and find Sarah and talk to her....I hated that part. It is like come on Emma do something! For once in your life stop being so blah about everything!

So most of the book is really Emma wants to be with Evan but doesn't think she can be. They have to stay just friends. She can't date, and when Sarah pushes her to date Evan she finally breaks and says I can't! If my aunt found out it would be the end of me. So Sarah agrees, they can't date, but every other second she is pushing Emma to kiss Evan, then the other seconds like wait no you can't! WAY too much back and forth, go for it wait no don't wait yes do wait no don't, it was annoying. It made me like Sarah even less than I did originally.

So then we have the part that probably made me the most angry/annoyed. Drew. So Emma can't be with Evan, who she thinks she loves, because what if the aunt finds out. I get that, so she can't date anyone. Well one morning Emma and Evan have a fight about how Emma doesn't trust him and so he stops talking to her. What does Emma do? Immediately, and I mean immediately, starts dating Drew. I mean she realized Drew likes her so why not? Um...because you can't date anyone? Because if your aunt finds out it will be the end of you? Why in the world can you not date the guy you love but you can date random guy? How is the world does this make sense at all?!?! I don't get it!!! At least be consistent in your rules...though I will say the one thing I did like in this book was that Emma could still like making out with someone who wasn't Evan. I liked that she could still feel good, feel attraction to another hot guy even though her heart wasn't in it. It is something you don't really see in most books, but I feel like there is some truth to that. So there is that.

So the aunt is a nightmare, the friends and boyfriend do nothing about her home situation, but let's talk about the uncle for a minute. The uncle pretends he doesn't see the abuse and looks the other way. I get that can be common in situations like this, but still great guy that one. Somehow Emma still thinks he is okay even though he has hit her before and has threatened her. She finally decides she needs to get out of there before her aunt kills her, after her teachers and coaches finally try to get her to tell them who is hurting her, and her uncle finds her at home packing. She was seriously afraid of him so why the f does she stay? Is she really that naive still? Seriously? I just...I can't. I can't even...her character is not written like she has taken this abuse for so long it is what it is and she doesn't know how to get out. No, she knows, she finally wants to get out and yet she stays. She stays so she can go into school with her uncle and tell them see no problem, everything is fine, and she trusts that her uncle will let her go after that. Sure, I mean you were afraid that he would hurt you and physically prevent you from leaving so I trust him. And that plan would totally work....It was the final seriously? WTF is wrong with you? Are you really that delusional? And what is wrong with Evan and Sarah? They are just going to let this slide? Why can't she stay with Sarah overnight and still go to school the next day? Why does she have to stay in her horrible home? IT MAKES NO SENSE! This book made me angry, if you couldn't tell by my hella long rant.

Rating: 1/2 star

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