Barely Breathing by Rebecca Donovan, published by Penguin on 28th February 2013
The scandalous secrets
of Emma's abuse are revealed, but she still has so much to learn out
about her past. Why did her mother leave her all those years ago? What
really happened the night Emma's father died? Were her memories of being
happy just a dream?
The repercussions of one horrific night has
affected the lives of everyone involved. But with the promise of true
love and new relationships, will Emma let it ruin hers for good?
'Barely Breathing' will leave your emotions in a mess and your heart hurting. It will also leave you counting down the days to the third and final instalment of this series which can't be published soon enough for me. I was extremely impressed with Rebecca Donovan's debut novel, 'Reason to Breathe' and so picked this one up as soon as it arrived. It's another difficult read because it makes you care so much about the main character Emma that at times it is hard to read about some of the things that she has to go through. I felt sadness, hope, joy and despair at various stages throughout this book and by the end I felt exhausted but also desperate to know what was going to happen next.
The story picks up 6 months after previous events. Emma is now safe and living with Sara and her parents, while Carol has been sent to prison and George and the children have moved away. Emma is slowly coming to terms with the abuse which was inflicted on her and is trying to carry on with her life with Evan by her side. With college in the near future, at the beginning of the book she decides to move in with her mother Rachel, so that the two can develop a relationship before she moves away. I have to admit that although I admired how willing Emma is to give people a second chance and try to build bridges, a small part of me couldn't understand why she wanted to put herself back into a potentially difficult situation, after having just escaped one. She is safe and secure with Sara's family and I wanted her to stay there and put herself first for once.
Her relationship with Rachel is not a typical mother-daughter one. Rachel abandoned her in the past and has problems with drinks and drug, both of which make for a potentially explosive family environment. She is also now dating a younger man, Jonathan, who she brings into Emma's life. It was hard at times to see the way in which she treats Emma and her reluctance to talk about what happened to her daughter while she was gone. I think she genuinely did want to mend things between them but it was also obvious that she didn't have her own life under control yet. There is also friction because of Emma's father and some surprising revelations are brought to light about their family situation.
I definitely was not a fan of Jonathan at all but I thought the bond which develops between him and Emma was well written. They have things in common because of experiences they've both faced in their pasts and Emma feels like he understands some of what she has gone through. As an Emma/Evan supporter, I did not want to see anything come between them and therefore read some of the scenes in the book with some unease about the way in which things were going to work out for them.
The ending left me in tears. It literally ripped my heart out. I don't know how I'm going to cope until I get my hands on the third book, 'Out of Breath'. I'm going to be in a continual state of anticipation until then! I only hope that Emma gets the ending that I want for her.