Review Blog

Mar 21 2012

Try not to breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard

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Kindle Edition, Viking Children's, 2012. Viking Children's Books, ISBN 9780670013906.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Sixteen year old Ryan is a misfit. He spends a lot of time at the local waterfall, because it makes him feel alive when he actually walks under it. He has recovered from time spent in a mental hospital after attempting suicide, and he's finding that living with the hovering of his parents and the rumours at school are very difficult to cope with. When Nicki , a young girl who also spends time at the waterfall, badges into his life and starts asking him questions about why he tried to commit suicide, he finds that he must confront some important questions. Nicki too has to face some things from her past.
The story is told by Ryan in the first person and as a reader I got to know him very well as he tried to navigate his way back into a world where he felt normal. I could sympathise with his over-protective mother, who made sure that all pills were locked away and the car out of bounds, but also with Ryan who desperately needs to be treated normally. When irrepressible Nicki asks him questions that he has not even answered for his doctor, he knows that he will have to help her in her quest for answers about her father, especially when she decides that a psychic might be able to help.
Hubbard has written an engrossing and ultimately uplifting story about a very difficult subject. She has delved into depression and how people are able to hide it from those around them. She examines the aftermath of suicide and attempted suicide and the feelings of those who are affected by it. She also looks at how difficult it is for the survivor of suicide to feel normal and to carry on, when everyone knows what has happened. This book has made me much more conscious of the effects of depression and attempts at suicide.
Teens reading this will be able to identify with a great story written in a positive and gripping way, while gaining understanding of the feeling of alienation and isolation of those who are struggling with depression and the aftermaths of suicide attempts.
Pat Pledger

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