Before I start I think a brief warning is in order. I write my reviews almost simultaneously while reading. The following review is long and consists of a lot on contradicting sentences and incoherent thougths I experienced while reading this piece of writing. Also might contain mild spoilers!
I decided to pick up The Reason to Breathe to have a rest from all the fairies, vampires and unfairly hot aliens and bring myself back to harsh reality. The theme of domestic violence and abuse is painful, but strangely compelling as well. Maybe I need a dose of human cruelty every once in a while not to lose my own sense of reality?
I have to say I wasn't overly impressed by the beginning.It got better after first 5 rather awkward chapters, but still, the characters stayed too one dimensional to generate any deeper emotions or totally flow with the story. I hate to say it, but it did give me a very fanfictionisque vibe. At times there was ridiculously long description of scenery, houses, decoration, different sports you name it. It only made concentrating on the action that much harder. Then at times we flew over some parts with only couple of sentences. It felt unbalanced. I would have liked more interaction or even a closer understanding of the characters. We actually didn't get to know them at all! A little explanation behind their motives would've been nice.
he author gave us no reasoning behind Emma's abuse. Simply stating that her uncle and aunt hated her wasn't enough. It made the whole part feel a bit fabricated. I didn't feel Emma's pain. Abuse is horrible and destructing, twisting the persons on both, the delivering and receiving end. I didn't feel it. AND I can't believe, the only thing that kept her from exposing her horrible relatives was the excuse of her niece and nephew. Huh? I get you might love them with all your heart, as they're the only sunshine in your depressive family, yada-yada. Such constant emotional and physical violence can not be directed only at one point. Sooner or later the hate will consume her. And then what? Letting the kids watch their Mom turn into a psychopath. Grr. I don't understand Emily at all.
She only had to be home at 10 o'clock and do her chores. A whole week she could concentrate on her own things. She basically could use her time as she wanted. She also had a rather wealthy best friend, girls wanting to be her friends and boys running after her. She never had to take the bus and by the way, she also was beautiful. Hmm. That characterisation doesn't make me feel bad for her, only angry.
The way Emily treated Sara after the first big discovery was too unforgivable. Really, how could you tell off your best and only, mind you! friend like this? I don't care if she was caught off guard etc The only thing saving the book for me was the remorse she felt over her deed.Sara was absolutely the best friend a girl could ask for! 100% caring, supporting and always there for her, no matter of her own oppositions.
Before the big Noble Idiot Syndrome, it again miraculously got better.I could almost feel the chemistry between Em and Evan through the pages.
I loved the -As long as were not dating it' okay- attitude, sparky! And
Sara, "Forget dating! Are you having a wedding you forgot to invite
me?" Yes. Definitely more gripping.
Sometimes I understand the need to to the "right" thing. Like between saving the world or staying with a guy you like. But in this case it felt really shallow. The forceful separation made no sense and only hurt them both. I don't understand her. Over and over I had to question myself, why? She had dreams and wants, why didn't she let herself have friends. I've never felt that way about any character before. It made me sad, and truthfully a bit angry as well.
Oh. I had no idea I had so much negative criticism in me. I don't even know what kept me reading half the time, yet I'm glad I did. halfway to the book it started to get better. I especially remember the part, when Emma and Sara were talking about Carol again. "If I let her get to me then she wins." - was the first sensible sentence, she uttered. It was a new light so far, encouraging me to read on.
The "break up" was done well. It wasn't overly dramatic, but more like
how it usually happens, drifting apart. Here I felt more Emmas emotions, maybe because of all the back story already provided. I'm not sure how much I liked the Drew factor. I
guess he was needed to keep up the action, but to me it once again
ruined the image of Emily as the poor, friendless girl. How devastated can you be if you have a hottie boyfriend on your every turn? But I did feel for her after the complete collapse of her dysfunctional family. However painful and delusional, it still was final.
As it appeared, the separation came out well for both of them. And I have to say the big reunion was perfect. Finally an author who appreciates the beauty behind simplicity. No grand accusation or dramatics, just two people, after what they've denied them for a long time.
Between this and the ending it dragged a bit, but the romance was sweet. Couple of scenes made me smile. Evan really stole my heart. What an understanding and caring boyfriend. Emma really is lucky.
And then came the last couple of pages, which took my breath away. What the hell, Book? It made me question my sanity and this review overall. I'm still speechless. I guess I'll have to read the sequel now. Otherwise I'd torch the book and curse the author to Hell and back. What an ending... *incoherent mumbles fade into distance*
In conclusion: What an infuriating book!! The reason I gave it only 3.5* is simple. 30% of the book was a gripping page turner and glued my nose to the book, however, the rest of the 70% barley managed to keep me from throwing my computer on the ground and stomping on it. I would call it a love-hate relationship. I'll continue the series. Not because I loved the book, but just out of pure curiosity. How does one solve a situation like that?
Song of the Day: Moby - Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad