Reason To Breathe

by Rebecca Donovan

Project by Findley Anderson

Book one in the "Breathing" series, Realistic Fiction

Theme Song

"If REASON TO BREATHE has a theme song, this is it. I listened to this song so many times while creating the story. The lyrics actually inspired the book's title - "I am living just to breathe. And I need something more to keep breathing for. So give me something to believe."

These are the exact words of Rebecca Donovan, author of the breathing series. She is referring a song from The Bravery's album The Sun and the Moon. (To listen to the song, click on the video below. It is recommended you listen while viewing the rest of the visual )

The Bravery - Believe


16-year-old Emma Thomas has lived with her aunt and uncle in Weslyn, Connecticut, ever since her dad died years ago and her mother was unable to take care of her, From the minute she walked into their house, Emma knew that she wasn't welcome. Her aunt Carol in particular hates her with a passion and does everything in her power to make Emma's life miserable. This includes hitting her, destroying her belongings, and calling her worthless. At the same time, Carol loves and cares for her two young children, Layla and Jack, without abusing them. On top of the abuse, Emma has to deal with very strict rules put in place by her aunt and uncle. These guidelines keep Emma from really living life and having a pleasant high school experience. She is constantly living in fear of the next time Carol will perceive her doing something "wrong" and the consequences that ensue.
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Instead of worrying about what clothes to wear and who to be seen with, Emma must work extremely hard in school and sports to get a scholarship into college, because her aunt and uncle are not willing to pay for her. She just has to survive the next two years until she's off on her own, but Emma is not so sure she'll make it that far without her aunt seriously injuring her. She can not tell anyone about her situation because if people find out, not only will Emma be taken away from her aunt and uncle, but Layla and Jack will be taken away from their parents, ruining their childhood. Emma cares about her little cousins and their relationship with their mom and dad so she stays strong for them and hides the truth. So she can be focused on academics, Emma becomes invisible at school, blending into the crowded hallways, just trying to survive and hide the bruises. Nobody notices her aside from Sara, and Emma is perfectly fine with that. Then one day, a new kid named Evan Mathews transfers to her school, and Emma's whole world changes. He notices her. And he will not give up until she notices him too. They are just friends for a long time, since Emma is not allowed to date anyone. Overtime however, she realizes that she should ultimately be with Evan. He is her "missing piece," and he makes her feel special, especially during the hard times in her life.They have to keep their relationship a secret. Throughout the novel, Emma learns to live life, and that in tough times when there is little hope, love is truly a miracle.

Main Characters

Major Settings

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Emma's House

Locked in her bedroom in the Thomas household is where Emma spends most of her time, due to the fact that her aunt and uncle rarely let her go out. The residence is fairly tidy but small for the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut.
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Sara's House

Emma sleeps over at Sara's house every Friday night, which Carol and George have reluctantly let her do since they often aren't home, but she always has to be back by 10:00 o'clock the next morning. Most of the time the two of them spend together is at Sara's house, since Emma is not allowed to have friends over.
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Evan's House

As Emma gets to know Evan better, she spends as much time as possible with him. Evan has just moved into a well-kept large white historic farmhouse, with a barn converted into a garage. The two of them play games in the game room, and listen to music and watch movies in Evan's bedroom.

My Overall Thoughts

Reason to Breathe was one of the most captivating stories I've read in a long time. It was an emotional rollercoaster from cover to cover. Emma's experiences were so real and vivid, that at times I felt as though I was going through life with her. In the end, I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a deep, emotional story about life and love.