Review: Breathe Into Me by Sara Fawkes

Breathe into meWhere did you get the book: E-arc from Netgalley
Publisher: St Martins Press
Release Date: April 8th

How did my life get so broken? It’s a question Lacey St. James asks herself every day. Stuck raising her little brother in a trailer park while she works a dead end job at a grocery store, she has a stalker exboyfriend, a bad reputation, and no way out.

And then, she meets Everett, who changes her entire existence.

Everett is an outsider who’s housesitting his family’s mansion off the coast, and for reasons Lacey can’t understand, he’s completely transfixed by her. He seems determined to show her that life can offer more than she’d ever hoped for, if only she believes in herself. She desperately yearns to trust him, but what happens when she finds out that everything he’s told her is a lie?
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

Lacey St John’s life is in the dumps. She is in an abusive relationship with an arsehole, and is living with an abusive grandmother, and a mother who finds comfort and escape in alcohol rather than looking after her children. Lacey’s only consolation and joy is in her little brother, Davy who is the only reason why she has remained living with her chaotic home-life.

When I saw the premise and cover for Sara Fawke’s Breathe Into Me, I was very intrigued. And I have to say it mostly met my expectations, although I did have a few issues with the plot and characters. Sara Fawkes opens up the book in a stark and almost hopeless tone, and I really loved that despite this despondent feel. I also found the heroine interesting and compelling, and even though she knew she was making mistakes and stuck in a hopeless situation, she didn’t give up. So after Lacey has an ugly confrontation with her boyfriend–who soon becomes her ex–at a bar one night, it becomes a hard wake-up call for her to change direction in her life. It is also the night she encounters Everett, and their attraction becomes very palpable after becoming friends. He soon shows her that she can have different choices and she can get out of the dark trap in her life.

I loved the bleak and gritty tone of the book. I felt that it was realistic and authentic  with the way Lacey dealt with the effects of her home-life which was disruptive and painful. Especially in how trapped she felt because it had been that awful for her. Even though she had personal setbacks, some from her own self-doubts and others from people who want to drag her down. But things change after meeting and befriending Everett, she begins to open herself to possibilities and slowly believes that she can get out of it.

The romance between Everett and Lacey also evolves organically. I liked that it took time for the attraction to develop into something deeper. I especially loved that Everett was patient and sweet with Lacey. It was obvious he had feelings for her but didn’t push or rush her and that really strengthened the romance for me because Lacey had to deal with so many issues.

However, I did have a few issues with certain plot points concerning a twist with Everett and his sister and something he was linked with in the past. It also touches on something that happened with Lacey which is a huge factor in how her world unravelled soon after. I wasn’t keen on the twist because it didn’t really work for me, especially since I didn’t think it was Everett’s fault on what happened and it felt forced angsty for me. But for me the bigger issue was the subplot with her brother, and accusation of abuse which Lacey is somehow to blame. She was accused by her family that she was abusing her little brother and this was not investigated closely. This wasn’t researched well because I’m sure a teacher who would suspect any kind of abuse would get social services involved who would investigate the entire family, and not just believe the blame that Lacey was culprit. It was not a secret that her mother, who was an alcoholic, or neighbours witnessed the screaming and abuse that the grandmother hurled at Lacey.

Nonetheless, despite these niggles, I really enjoyed the story and the romance. Fawkes’ prose was compelling and engrossing. I also liked that Breathe Into Me genuinely felt like a NA to me because it dealt and covered themes of coming of age and discovering yourself and it was done fantastically. The romance was also fabulous and I loved the sweet, slow burn feel and the setting was great because it was the usual college based which is kind of getting tiring. Overall, this was a satisfying and enjoyable NA romance which had real emotional depth and grittiness.

I give Breathe Into Me a B-

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