Holly Seddon’s debut novel, Try Not to Breathe, is the kind of story that you go into hesitantly. I say this because it isn’t a love story, it isn’t a romance, it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Try Not to Breathe is a tough, heartbreaking read that will leave you keeping a closer eye on your children while trying to avoid the temptation to drink away the negative that happens in this book.
Alex is an alcoholic. Not a recovering alcoholic, but an alcoholic. At one point in her life she had it all: husband, home, amazing job writing for a paper, and ambition. She wanted more out of life. She wanted to be great. Unfortunately, the need to drink got in her way. When Try Not to Breathe begins, Alex is a freelance journalist who is writing a story about patients in a persistent vegetative state, or those who show some brain activity, but aren’t able to do anything. While at the hospital, Alex stumbles upon Amy Stevenson.
Amy went missing about 15 years earlier. She left school, walked home, and disappeared without a trace. For days she remained missing and then, out of nowhere, she was found. She was never the same.
Alex decides she wants to know more about Amy. She remembers the headlines, she remembers the warnings, and she remembers thinking that Amy could have been her. Or she could have been Amy. It is one of those cases that is eye-opening because it is tragic and because it could happen to anyone.
Jake is the boy Amy left behind. He is the boy who visits her at least once per week and he is the boy who just can’t let go. He is the middle child to Graham and Sue. Once he meets Alex, he realizes that there is so much he doesn’t know about what happened and that’s why he can’t let her go.
Together, Alex and Jake begin searching the past for answers. Someone, somewhere has to know what happened to Amy Stevenson.
This story is told in alternating POVs, switching mostly between Alex and Jake, but also including Amy and Sue. This is one of those books that you just have to see through to the end or you’ll never stop asking yourself who did it.
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