Reason To Breathe by Rebecca Donovan

Publisher: self-published

Format:Kindle Edition

Judith here: this review is courtesy of our ever ready, always fabulous guest reviewer, Richelle. Thanks to her for pulling through when we can’t! And btw, god! I hate books about rampant and flagrant child abuse. Should I read it or not?


So, I’ve created a monster! I now have another friend who reads a lot of YA books and loves them. I don’t know if we will ever have enough time to read all of the books we recommend to each other, but this is one she told me about that I actually decided to read and I’m glad I did!

Plot: After Emma’s father died and her mother could no longer take care of her, she has to move in with her father’s brother, his wife, and their 2 kids. Unfortunately, her aunt, or as I like to call her, the Psycho Witch, is very abusive. Emma keeps very quiet at school so no one finds out about what is happening at home. If someone were to find out, she is worried that her aunt and uncle will lose their kids, and she loves the kids! She only has one friend, Sarah, who sort of knows what is going on, but helps Emma by keeping her secret. Emma’s goal is to concentrate on her grades and sports so she can get out of the Psycho’s house and go away to college. But, of course, she meets Evan, hottie extraordinaire.
Evan and Emma (cute or vomit?) become friends and start dating, which makes Emma happy. Of course, Aunt Witchy cannot stand it that Emma is happy and gets more and more crazy as the days go by. Evan and Sarah continuously grow concerned, but are not sure what to do, especially because Emma will not tell them how bad it really is. Oh, and it’s bad, especially the end.

Review: I have to admit, that I knew I was going to like this book! Not that I don’t trust my new reading buddy, but I checked with my book-a-day friend also and she told me she loved it, so I had to read it!
This story was interesting from the beginning. In the opening scene, you find out that Emma wakes up sore and realizes that she will have to wear long sleeves all week (to cover the bruises). You learn how close she is to her 2 cousins and how much she cares about them. It is very easy to be sympathetic to her situation because it really is lose/lose. Right from the start, you see how controlling her abusive aunt is with Emma completing her chores and how she is not even allowed to take a granola bar if it is not on her “list”. The abuse just keeps getting worse and worse. This book really tugs at your heart strings from beginning to end.
The relationship between Emma and Evan was sweet. I love that Evan basically makes Emma be friends with him, no matter how rude she is to him and how much she tries to push him away. He really is good for her and, duh, they start dating. And as predicted, things get hot, or as hot as they can get with a nut job for a guardian!
I was really starting to get aggravated that everyone was basically ignoring what was happening! Do people seriously do this? She had at least 3 people that knew something was happening and no one said or did anything. And this crazy aunt even convinces the idiot uncle that Emma is the problem, so of course he believes his wife because he doesn’t witness any of the abuse until almost the end. People finally start

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taking a stand for Emma, but she keeps convincing people to just let her deal with it or she just blows up at them to avoid the confrontation. And they listen to her! Why? I bet they are sorry now!
There is a lot more to this book than I can put in this review. After all, I don’t want to give away the entire story. So, read it! You won’t be sorry! But… You will be sucked in to read the second book, and THIRD book (when it comes out)!

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 9 Emma reacts the way a lot of people in this situation would act. She hides, acts like nothing is wrong, and does everything she is supposed to do at home and in school, in hopes of escaping this abuse eventually. She also acts the way most teenagers act, Stupid!! Especially when dealing with the opposite sex, teenagers (and many adults I know) don’t really think about the consequences of their actions while they are “in the moment”. The only issue I had with Emma was that someone in her situation probably wouldn’t do some of the things she decided to do, but I guess who knows? YOLO, at least that’s what the kids are saying now, so I’m cool, right?

How much did I like the love interest: 9 Evan sounds really cute and like a really good guy. He is interested in Emma right away, regardless of her basically hiding in school and being totally bitchy to him right away. (I get it, it’s a defense mechanism for her, but that was pretty cool of him to keep talking to her). He plays soccer, interested in photography, he’s hot, he’s rich and more. Like Emma says at one point, “Is there anything you aren’t good at?” He really cares about her more and more throughout the story. The one issue I had with him is that he doesn’t ever step up to defend her until it is too late!

How believable is the plot: 9 This could definitely happen, I’m sure it has happened unfortunately. I hate hearing about people being abused or killed in the news, yet I love to read about them in FICTION books, figure that one out! It was disconcerting to me that Sarah, Evan, Sarah’s mom, and Emma’s uncle all basically knew what was going on, but no one would do anything. I get it that there is more to think about than how much Emma is getting hurt, but it sure was getting bad before anyone stepped up.

How much did I like the writing style / editing / etc: 10 It was a well written story, told from Emma’s point of view. This was essential to the story in my opinion because you were able to really see what Emma was dealing with in the confines of her Aunt Crazy Person’s home.

How much did I want to keep reading: 10 I really did want to keep reading! What was Aunt Lunatic going to do next? Why was she flipping out this time? Where is Emma’s mom? Are Emma and Evan together? Is someone going to stop this abuse from happening? No?! And then I read the last few pages and crap!!!!! What the hell just happened?! Oh, yes, there is a sequel…

Final Score: 9/10 Aside from the unspoken agreement of everyone to ignore the abuse, this book really kept my interest. I would recommend it for sure, just beware, there are some graphic abuse scenes.

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3 thoughts on “Reason To Breathe by Rebecca Donovan

  1. The abuse is hard to read about, but luckily it isn’t too detailed. I’m reading the second one now.

  2. The second was really good too! I’m just put off a little by the new character, Jonathan. I really don’t know what to think about him and where the final book is going to take us. I’ve been reading her posts on Facebook though and I’m really excited to read the third!

    • Oh man. Jonathan. Was there ANY doubt where that entire plot was headed once he was introduced? I’m so glad you’re reviewing these because I’d be much harsher. And yet I keep buying them…I’m obviously a glutton for punishment. Or an idiot.

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