Review: Barely Breathing

Barely Breathing
Barely Breathing by Rebecca Donovan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a continuation of the Breathing series. It was not as good as the first book in the series, but it was still a really interesting and enjoyable read. The previous book left off with Emma’s aunt trying to kill her. In the first few pages of this book, you find out that Emma did survive, her aunt did go to jail, and that she has been dealing with the fall-out from everyone discovering that she lived in a deadly situation. And though she has been living in a safe situation with her best friend in the whole world, Emma makes the shocking decision to move in with her mother–the same one that she couldn’t even stand to talk to in the last book.

Emma and her mom, who says Emma must call her Rachel not mom, have a few good days together. Then somehow Emma’s mom goes off-the-wagon after realizing how much Emma reminds her of Emma’s deceased father. Emma’s mom’s real personality comes out throughout the book. She is more than just an occasionally sloshed character: she’s a full-fledged alcoholic who neglects and emotionally abuses her daughter, who develops unhealthy attachments to one of the younger men that she dates, who owes money to a drug dealer, and who manipulates anyone she is around. If you want to get psychoanalytical about her, she is a textbook case of borderline personality disorder. The more intoxicated she is, the meaner she can be. And she can be just as vicious with her words as Carol was with her fists. Rachel is enabled by almost all of her friends, and has been for years. Rachel is jealous of any love or attention that Emma receives, especially when the attention comes from Rachel’s boyfriend. (This apparently reminds Rachel of how Emma’s father doted on Emma, but didn’t love her.)

Emma eventually realizes that she is in a toxic situation with her mother, but she doesn’t seem to understand that the same could be said for her unhealthy attachment to Jonathan–the mom’s boyfriend. Actually, it’s his attachment to her that is much more disturbing. I don’t see how anyone could see his character as anything less than creepy. And Emma’s ability to tell him anything, but unwillingness to talk to Evan about her home life is really sad, especially when you realize that he is dealing with what happened the night that she was almost killed by her aunt on his own, too.

This book made me more uncomfortable than the previous book, which is why I couldn’t give it five stars instead of four. There are some parts of the story that I felt could have been left out and others that I wish had been more developed. It was still a really good book, though.

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Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.