Reason to Breathe - Rebecca Donovan (2011)

When Emma's father died and her alcoholic mother could not look after her, she was taken in by her aunt and uncle. But far from being welcomed into their family, her aunt makes her home life a constant and dangerous struggle. Emma's only salvation is the prospect of moving away to college and she's counting down the days until she can realise that dream. Fading into the background, she works studiously at school to keep up her academic record and vie for a sports scholarship, missing out on many of the typical high-school experiences. But when new boy Evan takes an interest in her, Emma cannot help but push the boundaries that her controlling aunt sets but the stakes are dangerously high. This is quite a disturbing and difficult read with scenes of physical abuse, but oftentimes the plot is fairly unconvincing and as much as the author tries to justify Emma's predicament, her reasoning for not leaving and the motivation of her aunt are just too specious. Although it is a long book, the omissions of a number of elements in the plot were very tangible and seemingly left a lot out. However, it is hard to deny the hook of this book. (JC)

Reason to Breathe is the first book in Rebecca Donovan's emotionally intense The Breathing Series. The summary says: "A passionate love. A brutal betrayal. Unwavering hope. An incredible novel that will leave readers breathless and desperate for more. In a town 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, pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises. Emma doesn't want anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. When Emma unexpectedly finds love, it challenges her to recognize her own worth - but at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she's desperate to hide?" It is followed by Barely Breathing and Out of Breath, which will be out in July. (JC)

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