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Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Book #63: TRY NOT TO BREATHE by Holly Seddon

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon
ISBN: 9781101885864 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101885871 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780399567605 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00ZNE44F0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 23, 2016  
Publisher: Ballantine Books


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 Britpop 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.   


Alex Dale is a down-on-her-luck freelance journalist searching for a story. While researching an article about patients in a long-term care facility, she comes across Amy Stevenson. Amy was brutally attacked fifteen years and left for dead; she's now in a vegetative state. Alex decides that Amy's story might be just the ticket to get her back in the journalism game in Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon.

Alex is a thirty-year-old alcoholic. She's lost her job, her husband, and all of her friends. The best Alex can hope for is writing an investigative article about Amy Stevenson with an eye on solving this cold case. In an effort to gain insight into this cold case, Alex contacts her ex-husband, a police officer, to obtain information from the police files. Alex begins to dig into Amy's past and attempts to befriend Amy's former boyfriend, her stepfather, her biological father, and her girlfriends. Her digging reveals that Amy may not have been raped but involved in a flirtation with someone other than her boyfriend, a flirtation that devolved into a physical attack after consensual sex. While Alex digs into the story and sits with Amy, Amy's ex-boyfriend, Jacob, is dealing with a host of personal problems. Jacob is now married and his wife is expecting their first child. He's never told her about his first girlfriend or the fact that he visits the hospital and sits with the long-term care patients. As a result of his lack of disclosure, his wife thinks he's having an affair and kicks him out of their home. While Jacob deals with his personal issues, Alex thinks she's managing her issues. She thinks that she can manage her addiction by limiting her drinking until after noon each day. She's become incontinent and suffers from blackouts, insomnia, and paranoia. It isn't until her doctor tells her that if she continues she'll be dead within a year that she realizes she must make some changes. Will she have time to continue her investigation before her health problems become irreversible? Can Jacob confide the truth to his wife before it's too late for his marriage? Is it possible that Alex and Jacob can finally discover the identity of Amy's attacker?

Before I go any further, I have to say this, Read This Book! Yes, I know I routinely tell you to read books. What can I say other than I've been fortunate to read a host of excellent books this year and Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon definitely falls into that category. No, I'm not going to compare this to other hot mystery-suspense or psychological suspense reads that have come out over the past few years. I will say that Ms. Seddon has crafted a hauntingly beautiful story about two women that are suffering long-term adverse effects of poor decisions that I enjoyed from the first word to the very last. Amy's decision was to cheat on her boyfriend and trust someone based on his looks alone. (Amy was young and is by no means responsible for her attack. The older guy is wholly responsible for his actions toward Amy.) Alex's decision was to continue drinking after losing everything that was important in her life. I enjoyed the different perspectives gained as the story is told by Amy, Jacob, and Alex. I can't tell you any more without spoiling the story, but if you enjoy psychological suspense reads then you'll definitely want to add Try Not to Breathe to your TBR list. Even if you're not sure about psychological suspense reads, you'll still want to add Try Not to Breathe to your TBR list. Make sure you have a few hours to read because this story is going to suck you in. 

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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