Rebecca Donovan’s Breathing series is not for the faint of heart. The final book in the trilogy, Out of Breath, completely messed with my head, lobbing my emotions between happiness and sorrow, hope and despair, frustration and relief. Like its two predecessors, Out of Breath is equal parts disturbing and captivating, with a heroine whose tendencies towards self-destruction and self-loathing often made me feel as though I were spiraling down a black hole of misery. The only respite from Emma’s constant state of psychological turmoil is Evan, who arrives just in time to help Emma battle the unshakable demons of her past that consume her everyday life and prevent her from moving forward.
It’s been a while since I read the first two books in the series and I therefore spent a good amount of time becoming reacquainted with Emma’s story. I was unprepared for the sudden influx of haunting memories that invaded my mind as I progressed through the story, which provided some insight into Emma’s tumultuous state of mind. Much of the first quarter of Out of Breath is spent detailing Emma’s life as a college sophomore – a full two years since we last saw her. I felt a mixture of sympathy and anger – sympathy towards Emma whose guilt consumed her thoughts, and anger towards the author for prolonging Emma’s (and my) reunion with Evan by introducing a new love interest, Cole. I waited impatiently for the reintroduction of Evan’s calming presence, especially when Emma began channeling Bella from New Moon, seeking the next adrenaline high to escape her pain for a few precious moments.
If it wasn’t for Evan, I would have lost my sanity while reading this book. His return is the long-awaited catalyst for the reveal of Emma’s darkest secrets. The process is difficult yet therapeutic, and I often found myself holding my breath, waiting for every hidden truth to be unveiled so that Emma and Evan could finally accept that they are two halves of a whole. For me, it’s never a question of if they will be together, but when. Their love is a bright light and beacon of hope in an otherwise tragic story, propelling me onward through the book, with the anticipation of their Happily Ever After.
Although I’m sad to see this series end, I’m happy that Emma and Evan finally have closure. I only wish there could have been more written about their future. I felt as though there was a lot of buildup towards the book’s climax, but by that point, there were only a few chapters left and not enough time to explore the aftereffects. Rebecca Donovan includes a short epilogue, which left me wanting more, and I can only hope that she will decide to revisit Emma and Evan’s story one day.
Rating: 4 Stars
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