Wednesday, March 2, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon (Thriller, Mystery)

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.

Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Brit pop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.

The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation.

In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

Told in the present by an increasingly fragile Alex and in dream-like flashbacks by Amy as she floats in a fog of memories, dreams, and music from 1995, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer to a breathtaking conclusion.

*Key Characters* Amy Stevenson, Alexandra (Alex) Dale, & Jacob

Try Not to Breathe is the debut novel from author Holly Sheddon. It is a story that alternates narratives between the three key characters, including Amy's dream like flashbacks going back to the day it all ended in tragedy. The novel takes place over the course of 16 years, and will keep readers attention until the final chapters. 

On July 18, 1995, Amy left school, and disappeared. Shortly thereafter, she was found barely alive and unconscious in the woods. It is now 15 years later, and almost everyone has forgotten about her attack, and her attacker has never been found. Amy lives in a dreamless reality where she has no control over her life or what happens to her. She has no idea of the devastation that her attack had on others, including her own parents. 

Alex sees a chance to finally do something good when she starts researching Dr. Haynes new treatment avenues for those who have had traumatic brain injuries and are in coma's. Haynes truly believes that he can communicate with patients that are in persistent vegetative states. A change encounter with Amy, who happens to be one of Dr. Haynes patients, leads to a brand new avenue for Alex. Alex has destroyed everything that was good in her life with alcohol. 

She lost her child, her husband, and a promising career as a writer for the Times. Now, it may end her life as well. Alex doesn't start out by trying to uncover what happened to Amy. But, she may be the right person who is able to get to the bottom of the devastating attack on Amy that changed a whole lot of people's lives. Call it fate, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it. Call it a second chance at life for Alex who may be able to look herself in the mirror, and accept who she is without alcohol as a crutch.

Jacob is the ex-boyfriend of Amy when they were 15-years old. He is now married to Fiona, and has a baby on the way. But, Jacob has been keeping a huge secret from Fiona. Jacob has been sitting with Amy for years, without mentioning it to anyone. Clearly Jacob has issues with letting go. Jacob and Alex eventually work together to find out what happened to Amy, but first, Jacob has a ton of explaining and self-discover to do before he can move on with his own life.

The strangest narrative and most heartbreaking is from Amy. As the author brings her into the current frame of time, Amy's memories clearly show that of a 15 year old, and not the 30 year old she currently is. She remembers fits and starts about the past, and what happened to her. She even starts to remember things after Alex's arrival in her life. It's rather shocking to read that those who might be considered to be in a vegetable state, may actually have functioning minds. Can you imagine if a loved one was actually able to communicate with someone who has been in a coma for a long period of time? 

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