Out of Breath by Rebecca Donovan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What do I say about a book I’ve been on pins and needles waiting for, a book that when I met the author I had a total fangirl moment because I was so giddy and emotionally invested in her characters?
I had a very mixed reaction to OUT OF BREATH, the final book in this series. I was somewhat disappointed, but somewhat satiated. On the one hand, Rebecca Donovan gave me everything I asked for – resolution for all the characters – and one I can be happy about and live with. On the other hand, given what I’d received in the prior two books, I felt like that’s all I got – none of the emotional roller coaster I’d learned to crave from this series.
Disclaimer: if you haven’t read the first two books in this series then you definitely should not be reading this review. Do yourself a favor, stop now, and get to it – they are AH-mazing.
At the end of BARELY BREATHING, Emma breaks Evan AND Jonathon’s hearts – leaving them crushed and broken. She destroyed Jonathon with the very information he trusted her with. Evan she abandons, worse yet, she allows him to believe she left him for Jonathon. But leaving Evan didn’t just break him – it destroyed Emma as well – leaving her only a shell of her former self. She has trudged through the first two years of college – treading so lightly that she barely leaves a trace of herself anywhere. She has roommates, but they don’t know the real her. She even attempts a relationship, but it’s based on the understanding that he doesn’t make her talk. Sara is her only real tether and Sara basically takes it upon herself to babysit Emma or request that one of her roommates do it in her stead. I totally expected as much – and I thought it was completely appropriate and honest for where Emma would be after abandoning everyone she loved. But the result is a very depressing read. There’s just nothing you can do about that.
Then a new tragedy brings Emma and Evan back together – but Emma is still convinced Evan could never love the real her and Evan is understandably mistrusting of Emma after she broke him so completely. So now we get a LOT of writing about them not being together – trying to break down Emma’s walls slowly and completely. All very necessary if the reader is going to believe that they could make it. And I think a lot of the build up and even Emma’s relationship with Cole really helped me as a reader understand why the author made the choices she did in book #2 regarding Emma not talking to Evan about, well, much of anything. In BARELY BREATHING I just didn’t get it – but now I do. That being said, while everything seemed necessary and true to the integrity of the story, it just didn’t leave for a very exciting or emotionally captivating book. I appreciated it. I got it. I just wished it could have contained more of the gut-wrenching emotion of book one and two.
I even got my closure regarding Jonathon. Not what I’d been expecting or hoping for and I really want to see him find his own peace (and I will be waiting with bated breath for that to happen when he gets his own trilogy) – but I got at least what I needed from Emma in regards to making amends with him.
I would actually give OUT OF BREATH 3.5 stars, but since I had to choose, I rounded up because while it wasn’t the same level I’d expected and hoped for based on the prior two books, I still can’t complain about the integrity of the story. I thought it was very realistic and I appreciated that for Emma and Evan’s sake.
**Reviewed by preppea on I ♥ Bookie Nookie Reviews.
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