Author: Jennifer R. Hubbard
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: January 19th, 2012
Pages: 233 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Won from Author
Ryan spends most of his time alone at the local waterfall because it’s the only thing that makes him feel alive. He’s sixteen, post-suicidal, and trying to figure out what to do with himself after a stint in a mental hospital. Then Nicki barges into his world, brimming with life and energy, and asking questions about Ryan’s depression that no one else has ever been brave enough—or cared enough—to ask. Ryan isn’t sure why he trusts Nicki with his darkest secrets, but that trust turns out to be the catalyst that he desperately needs to start living again.
The first thing I wanted to say about this book is that I loved the ARC cover (which is why I'm using it in my review) and I'm really sad with the option they've chosen for the final print instead. This one captures the waterfall, which was a huge part of the story for both characters.
I fell in love with Jennifer R. Hubbard's writing from the moment I laid eyes on The Secret Year, so I was ecstatic when I heard that Try Not to Breathe was coming out in the beginning of 2012. Unfortunately, this book-- while still a great message-- didn't quite live up to my expectations. Everything seemed to be slower paced and it might be because I've read more action-filled books lately, but it just wasn't enough for me.
Ryan's was a misunderstood teenage boy that felt alone all the time. That's why he did what he felt he had to do. He only started making friends in the psychiatric hospital, but once he was free to go home, those friendships began to fade little by little. It's different when you live so far apart. One day at the waterfall he met a familiar girl named Nicki who sort of barged into his home and life, learning more about him than he ever wanted to admit, even to himself. Nicki never seemed completely normal either, after all, she was going to psychics to learn more of her dead father.
Though it took quite some time, I loved learning about both Ryan and Nicki. I felt that I could relate to both, since Ryan and I had similar thoughts at one time and my father passed away when I was a teenager too. I also enjoyed the growing bond between two previously unconnected souls. If it weren't for the waterfall, I don't think Nicki would have been as drawn to Ryan. She did, after all, believe that he had the answers to her father's suicide, because at one time, they were at the same place.
The ending held a powerful message and you realize that anyone can open up and begin to have a normal life again. To be accepted as themselves and not the person they've always thought everyone loathed. Ryan and Nicki weren't invisible anymore and they never really were, especially to each other. Overall, the book was a really nice eye-opening read.