"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

25 February 2017

2017 Book Review #8: Try Not To Breathe

I discovered this book and author by browsing the "new books" shelf at my town library.
This is the author's debut novel.  I hope she continues to write more!


Alex Dale is a freelance journalist.  She used to work for a prestigious London paper but was fired due to her alcoholism.  This destructive addiction led to the break-up of her marriage shortly after she miscarried a pregnancy.  Her life is a mess. The only thing that keeps her going is her routine of working a bit in the morning, going for a run, and drinking by noon.  Sometimes she calls her ex-husband Matt who is now happily remarried with a baby on the way.  These conversations never end well.

One day Alex discovers Amy Stevenson.  Amy is in a coma and has been that way for 15 years.  She was viciously attacked at the age of 15 and no one has ever been arrested for the crime.  There have been several suspects, including her teenage boyfriend Jake and her step-father Bob.  But they were cleared by the local police.  Amy's mother died a few years after the assault and Bob has since moved away and re-married.  Jake is now married to Fiona and they are expecting a baby.  But what Fiona doesn't know is that Jake goes to see Amy every week.  He is called a "sitter" by the hospital staff which is a person who sits and talks to the people in that ward...there are several people in comas.

Soon Alex makes visiting Amy a part of her routine.  Alex is writing a story about the work that Dr. Jim Haynes is doing at the hospital with the coma patients.  He believes that using the technology of an MRI to elicit "yes" or "no" responses, will help solve the mysteries of each patient.  Alex is pulled into Amy's story and believes she can solve the "who done it" question.  She begins to interview most of the people from Amy's teenaged years which leads her to Jake, who now goes by his formal name Jacob. 

What begins as a story for Alex to use in her journalism career quickly becomes a personal obsession.  It is through this mystery and the wanting to solve it, that Alex realizes she needs to get sober once and for all.  

How is Alex going to solve this crime when the best witness of all is unable to speak? 


This book was very interesting!  In the back of the book, the author notes that in London there really is a hospital that deals with some groundbreaking work regarding neuro-disabilities.  It is called the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability and she encourages her readers to check them out to learn some facts rather than just reading her very fictionalized story.

I was very drawn in by the Amy character.  I loved that the story went from the past to the present and back again.  It was so well done..telling Amy's backstory and the events that led to the assault.

I liked that the author allowed us to read Amy's thoughts...that she isn't in a real coma state but her brain is active and thinking/remembering.  It was quite well done!

I was happy that she addressed the alcoholism and had Alex take steps to recover and get sober.  I also liked the way she brought in Alex's ex-husband Matt and had their relationship improve through the course of the book.

I was also surprised that the criminal was someone I was not expecting at all! I like being surprised....some of these books are so predictable...this one definitely is not.

This book deals with many issues:  divorce, alcoholism, long-buried secrets, and friendship.

The title is brilliant! I felt like I was holding my breath throughout so much of this story...especially in regards to Amy...she was kidnapped and raped at age 15 and left for dead....and she had so much potential for getting out of school and becoming a journalist her self....and then in a paralyzed state, she realizes something is not right.  It is just amazing and emotional.  In many ways, it seems like the characters themselves are holding their breath, too.

If you like suspense and pyschological thrillers, then I highly recommend this book.  Some people have compared it to The Girl on the Train.  This one is MUCH better!

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to mature content and language).
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Melanie Lopata said...

Looks great!!!

Susanne said...

I'll have to look and see if our library has this one. I did not like The Girl on the Train but if you say this is better I'll take your word for it.