Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Ten Tiny Breaths
by: K.A. Tucker
Publication Date: Feb. 12, 2013
Publisher: Atria Books
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-ARC received from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 289 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Hands down, this is the best NA book I've read this year. And I've read some really great ones. But this one wins. This book is a beautiful story of love, friendship, forgiveness, and healing. I formed such a connection and an attachment to the characters that I felt their every happiness, every sorrow, every fear, every desire. And it's books like these that I absolutely live for. Books that fill your heart, shatter it, and then slowly put it back together again. And my heart shattered a few times over. How could it not?
Our main character, Kacey, is a 20 year old who has lost everything that mattered to her in the blink of an eye, save for her younger sister, Livie. We are left with a girl who has simply numbed the pain of her past (previously with sex, drugs, and alcohol) and now channels her rage through kickboxing. As much as she tries to avoid it, Kacey struggles with post-traumatic stress and because she never let herself truly get help and heal, she holds everyone at arm's length, never letting anyone get close to her and know the real her. In fact, she refers to herself as 'Before Kacey' and 'After Kacey'. And she does not know how to find that balance between the two. Of course, she should never forget what happened (she couldn't anyways), but she shouldn't think of herself as divided in two. Through new relationships and friendships, we get to see Kacey slowly meld the two sides of herself together to form one whole.
As her and her sister settle into their new life in Miami, Kacey is faced with new challenges. Not only is she trying to overcome nightly nightmares, she has a younger sister to take care of. Livie, 15, is such a sweet character. (I can't wait to read about her in Tucker's new book, One Tiny Lie!) I think she really serves as an anchor for Kacey and helps pull her through and keep her in the present. Because Livie and Kacey only have each other, they are extremely protective of one another. Livie doesn't want to see her sister fall into the black depths of her mind and past. And Kacey wants her sister to have the opportunities she wasn't able to have (getting into Princeton, living a normal life). When Kacey thinks about making bad decisions, her mind always goes back to her sister and she's shocked back into the reality that her sister needs her.
However, Kacey can't avoid all human contact in Miami. She meets Trent, her gorgeous, sexy neighbor who she can't help but feel drawn to. For the first time in who knows how long, she's attracted to him, but wants more than just meaningless sex. Trent is a bit of an enigma. One minute he wants to rush things with her and then the next he slams on the brakes to take it slow. He's teases Kacey mercilessly, but when it comes down to it, he really just wants her.
"There's something different about him, and I don't have to think hard to see it. Something about the way he takes over a room, the way he looks at me, like he has already identified and can disarm every one of my defense mechanisms with no effort, like he sees through them to the disaster lying beneath. And he wants it."
"I can feel his very existence as if its wrapping its hand around my soul, cradling it, trying to protect it from harm and I'm terrified. Terrified because I don't ever want the feeling to end."
Kacey is wary of Trent of course, but he manages to slowly work his way into her life and into her heart. He is the first person that she has allowed to hold her hand since the accident and she makes such great progress when she's with him. Kacey is slow to trust, however. She does not reveal her accident to Trent for quite some time, and he wants to help her overcome her past, but then realizes that she has to want to help herself. Trent, however isn't in the position to help her, as he also has some things from his past to deal with.
Storm, is another key character in the novel. She is Kacey and Livie's neighbor and has a daughter, Mia. Storm also works her way into Kacey's life and becomes the true friend and confidante that Kacey needs. Storm has her own baggage to deal with, but is such a strong character, you can't help but love her.
I made the mistake of reading the chapter titles and kind of figured where Tucker was going to go with the novel. But it didn't make the huge OMG plot twist any less than it was. It literally felt like a punch to the gut and I seriously wanted to cry for Kacey. We saw her open her heart, and start to learn how to trust, and then BOOM! It all falls apart around her.
Forgiveness and healing are such critical elements in this book. Like I said, Kacey has never learned to deal with the post traumatic stress of the accident and therefore does not look at it with her eyes open or an experienced worldview. She sees it from an egocentric point of view, which is natural, but when she is left with no other option but to seek help, her doctor paints the picture quite differently for her. When I read the last part of this book I was instantly reminded of a quote from Buffy, where Buffy says someone doesn't deserve forgiveness and Giles says, "To forgive is an act of compassion, Buffy. It's not done because people deserve it, it's done because they need it." It takes quite some time for this to sink in with Kacey, but she does eventually realize that it's what she has to do in order to move on.
Don't be deterred by the emotional heaviness of this book. There are a lot of moments that made me chuckle, as well as swoon. Because there are some steamy scenes in this book!
So. Go get this book. Because it's worth every page.
"Hope. Hope that something beautiful may come from this tragic story. Fear. Fear that it won't. Forgiveness. Forgiveness."
*Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.*