Title: Barely Breathing
Series: The Breathing Series #2
Author: Rebecca Donovan
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2013
Source: Bought – Ebook
Synopsis from Amazon
Unanswered questions. Burning desire. Heartbreaking consequences.
The scandalous secrets of Emma’s abuse are revealed, but she still has so much to learn out about her past. Why did her mother leave her all those years ago? What really happened the night Emma’s father died? Were her memories of being happy just a dream?
The repercussions of one horrific night has affected the lives of everyone involved. But with the promise of true love and new relationships, will Emma let it ruin hers for good?
Please bear in mind that this is book 2 in the series and may therefore contain spoilers for the previous book.
I just have to say right at the start there could not have been a better title for this book as I quite literally held my breath while reading it, the air of tension a tangible presence within the narrative. My stomach was twisted in knots and my heart felt as if it was being squeezed in a vice, Rebecca Donovan’s writing is beautifully heartfelt and heart breaking in equal measure.
Set 6 months after the cliffhanger ending in Reason to Breathe (review HERE) all of Emma’s abuse is public knowledge, Carol is in prison and George has moved away with the children. Emma is living with Sara and her parents while still dating the amazing Evan. She has 6 months left before she is set to go to college, having been accepted to Standford alongside Evan and Sara. Emma’s mother, Rachel, has been in contact and appears to have changed, wanting to be part of Emma’s life. Against better judgement, Emma agrees to move in with her until college. She is still always putting others ahead of herself and never fails to look for the good in people.
Rachel, is extremely needy, she gives women in general a bad name believing that she needs a man to make her feel whole. She resorts to drink and drugs when she doesn’t get her own way. She is self-absorbed and selfish, it is hard to believe that she could be related to such a lovely person as Emma let alone be her mother. Emma has suppressed her memories of childhood, there is so much she doesn’t know about her fathers side of the family. Revelations are astonishing in both good and bad ways. The story cannot be taken for granted, nothing is predictable least of all the characters. The balance between plot and character development is tantamount to the Einstein of writing.
Rachel is dating a much younger man, Jonathan, who also has an abusive background, he is deeply damaged carrying his own demons that haunt his dreams. As Emma is still having nightmares about that fateful night, she has problems sleeping. Emma and Jonathan connect on an emotional level that only 2 people that have suffered such abuse can possibly understand. However, there is always an undercurrent of unease where Jonathan is concerned.
There are so many variables mixed into the plot that it kept me tied in knots. The sense of unease builds as the story progresses. The plot and characters suck you into their world and refuse to let you go even after the last page.
New characters, Jonathan as well as a perky, friend of Evan’s – Annalise, whose mother works for Evan’s mother (I hated her instantly). Their introduction really threw the balance of the relationships out of sync. Exasperated by Evan’s fathers dislike of Emma. The only reason for his dislike is the difference in social standing between them, making me want to rant and rail against him. I absolutely hated that people made Emma feel that she didn’t deserve to be with Evan, especially his father and Annalise. Evan’s mothers support of Emma is wonderful and managed to reignite my faith in humanity.
Emma’s life is still controlled by the incidents of other people, for the most part she has no control over the direction her life takes. At times it is overwhelmingly devastating. Yet Emma feels guilty for the things that happen even though she isn’t at fault. However, her guilt is understandable due to the fact that she has been brought up with constant negativity as opposed to positive re-enforcement. It is difficult to know how Emma is going to be able to overcome all of these things.
The ending of this book almost crushed me with emotion, to say I am anxiously waiting for the third book would be an understatement.