Release Date: January 19, 2012
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Author's Website: Jennifer Hubbard
Genre: Realistic YA, Contemporary
A dark and provocative novel from the author of The Secret Year
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.
Jennifer R. Hubbard has created a riveting story about a difficult but important subject.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I enjoyed Try Not to Breathe quite a bit, but I have to say the cover is misleading. It wasn’t nearly as steamy or romance driven as I was expecting. I think love plays a small role, but in my opinion there isn’t enough romance for that part of the book to even be mentioned in a blurb or for cover art.
I think this book captures depression better than a lot of novels I’ve read that address depression and suicide. It shows that sometimes there isn’t really a reason depressed teenagers feel the way they do. Sometimes the “reason” behind a teenager’s spiral into depression isn’t some huge ordeal. Sometimes it’s hardly anything at all, just the smallest series of events that may not seem like anything to someone else, but to the person who is already struggling inside their own head, it breaks them. It also shines a light on the affect even the smallest bit of bullying can have on a person. There are subtle messages throughout the story and I think it was done well.
I do wish some aspects of the story had been more heavily addressed. There are a few things, like Ryan’s mother’s behavior, that I would have liked to have seen fleshed out. It felt grazed over, but I can’t say that it wouldn’t have taken away from the realness of the story if everything was wrapped up with a pretty bow in the end. I liked that it was so real, right up to the last sentence, even if some aspects felt incomplete.
Try Not to Breathe is an honest portrayal of depression, friendship, and the desire for acceptance. It’s a touching story with characters you can’t help rooting for until the very end.