Breathe My Name [NOOK Book]


Frances can forgive. She can even forget. But she can never escape her past. . . .

In this compelling psychological thriller from the acclaimed author of Teach Me, Frances Robinson has the perfect life: loving adoptive parents, a great best friend, and a cute new boyfriend. But Frances has a secret.

Once upon a time she wasn’t Frances Robinson. She was Shine, and she lived ...
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Breathe My Name

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Frances can forgive. She can even forget. But she can never escape her past. . . .

In this compelling psychological thriller from the acclaimed author of Teach Me, Frances Robinson has the perfect life: loving adoptive parents, a great best friend, and a cute new boyfriend. But Frances has a secret.

Once upon a time she wasn’t Frances Robinson. She was Shine, and she lived with her three sisters and her birth mother, Afton Jelks, far out in the country. But the loneliness overtook Afton’s fragile mind, and one day she smothered her daughters, one after another. Only Frances escaped.

Now Afton is out of prison. And she wants to finish what she started. . . .
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In a sad, haunting story of murder and its tragic aftermath, 18-year-old Frances Robinson seems to have a picture-perfect life in tiny Bethel, Ala., complete with a loving family, a fun-loving best friend and even a cute new boyfriend. But beneath this happy façade lies a dark and ugly past: 11 years ago, her mother gradually descended into insanity and one day suffocated Frances's three younger sisters; Frances escaped death only because a passerby came to her rescue. Now, safe and secure with her adopted family, Frances struggles to move on and forget her survivor's guilt. But all the terrible memories come crashing back when she learns that her mother has been released from prison and placed in a halfway home-and wants to see Frances. "I need to see you," she writes from her undisclosed location. "We have to finish." Deciding that she can't fully embrace her future without confronting her past, Frances and her boyfriend, Nix, secretly take off on a road trip to find her mother. The story captivates at times, but progresses awkwardly. The flashbacks to Frances's childhood disrupt the pacing at the beginning, but most are too brief for readers to glean significant insight from them. The momentum picks up considerably when the teens set off on their journey, but the curve-ball conclusion isn't remotely plausible. Ages 14-up. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
"Shine is my name in Fireless," (p.2) but in the current timeframe of the story, Frances is 18 and still a junior in high school. Through alternating chapters we learn about the shattering events of her childhood that led to a new name and adoption at age seven. Fireless is the make-believe world her biological mother created for herself and four daughters as she slid ever deeper into a psychotic depression that eventually led to her murdering the three youngest children. Frances lives in fear that she carries the taint, the destiny of madness. When a stranger, claiming to be her mother's attorney, appears with a note asking for a meeting, Frances plots with her best friend, Ann Mirette, and her new boyfriend, Nix, to track down her mother. Her adoptive parents have worked hard to hide Frances' identity from an exploitative media; they would absolutely forbid this reunion if they knew, but Frances feels she has to confront her demons. There is a twist when she finally locates her mother, since the phony lawyer has manipulated events for his own purposes. The symbolic ending feels a bit contrived and much too abrupt. Teens will easily identify with the mix of feelings Frances has towards her protective parents, at times grateful but also feeling stifled. This would be a potentially valuable read for YA's dealing with more challenging issues such as adoption, mental illness of a parent, or loss of siblings. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
To most people who know her, Frances appears to lead a quiet, happy, sheltered life. She has a loving but overprotective family; a strong, opinionated best friend; and a budding relationship with the new boy in town. Beneath the surface, however, lies a dark secret that has tormented Frances for eleven years: One morning, her biological mother took each of her four daughters upstairs and smothered them with pillows. Only Frances survived. The arrival of a stranger carrying a message sparks a journey to face the monster and put an end to her nightmares. Along the way, she discovers strength and resilience, accepts the loss she could not prevent, and learns to move forward at last. The plot takes some leaps and occasionally borders on melodrama, but readers will forgive those flaws and follow the story eagerly to the end. Teenagers will relate to the quick intensity of new relationships and the exhilaration and fear of clandestine road trips. Haunting memories from her childhood are interwoven with the everyday life Frances has found with her adoptive family, flowing smoothly from past to present and back again, and giving flesh to the characters and the worlds they inhabit. The flashbacks provide a rich atmosphere as well as necessary background. This coming-of-age story is told in a sensitive but not sentimental or sensationalized manner. Frances grows to see her own past not through the eyes of a scared seven-year-old, but through those of the young adult she has become. Reviewer: Cheryl French
School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up- Eighteen-year-old Frances Robinson, born Francine Jelks, has been living in Alabama with her loving, adopted family for years, but there are still nights when she wakes up in a cold sweat, reminded that she once lived in a place called Fireless with her mother, Afton, and three younger sisters. One day a lawyer arrives, informing her that Afton has been released into a halfway house and giving her a letter from her mother; it ends, "We need to finish." The last time Frances saw Afton was when the woman tried to suffocate her with a pillow after murdering her siblings in the same fashion. With the help of her friend Ann Mirette, Frances plans a road trip with her boyfriend, "Nix," to find her birth mother. As scared as she is of seeing this frightening figure from the past, she wants to know if her mother was all bad. Can there be any good left in a person who was capable of something so evil? Nelson's novel is a thoughtful, moody, and entirely thrilling book. Flashbacks of Frances's youth in Fireless establish a creepy atmosphere showing Afton's descent into darkness. Nelson lightens the mood with a supporting cast of sympathetic and quirky characters, including recent New Orleans transplant Nix. Breathe My Name doesn't shy away from exploring the gray areas: forgiveness and family. With major twists and turns in the last 50 pages, this book will keep readers riveted until the very end.-Jennifer Barnes, Homewood Library, IL

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Frances left Fireless, her mother's dark imaginary world, years ago and found comfort in an adoptive family, but when she receives a letter from a psychiatric hospital saying "finish it," horrific memories surface. Two small sisters lie lifeless on a bed; sick games turn giggles into shrieks; and a mother's saucer eyes terrify. To end these nightmarish visitations, Frances embarks on a secret road trip to face her mother. Her boyfriend, Nix, drives, offering empathy and humor. Nelson's teen characters emerge as unique, fully realized people with accents, physical features and emotional dimensions that distinguish them from familiar young-adult caricatures. Vivid, unnerving scenes from Fireless break up Frances's present-day journey, jolting readers and placing them inside her psyche. With sensationalized news everywhere, teens will be fascinated by Frances's childhood at the center of a media-crazed tragedy. Readers also see what happens to the tragic players after cameras stop clicking. An unlikely final twist does not dilute Nelson's incandescent writing. Its shimmering clarity transfixes the reader, candling both damaging and redemptive familial forces. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440678530
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 11/8/2007
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 428,413
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • File size: 340 KB

Meet the Author

R.A. Nelson is the author of Teach Me, called “worthy of acclaim” (Kirkus Reviews), “exhilarating and terrifying” (Horn Book Newcomer's Pick), and a “standout debut. . . not to be missed” (VOYA). His work in support of the space program earned one of NASA's highest honors, the Silver Snoopy Award.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    A good book

    I found it hard to get into this book but once i did i was hooked. A great book and one that i would definitely read again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2013

    Something you wont forget

    I read this boom years ago and think of it time and time again I wish I knew where I put it so I could read it again. I absolutely loved it

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  • Posted August 29, 2011


    A suspenseful read throughout and a page turner. The writing style was good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2011

    AMAZING book, You HAVE to read it!!!!!!!!!!!!:):):):):):)

    This is an AMAZING book. It had me hooked from the very first chapter. It keeps you intersested till the very last page. It's a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2009

    Wonderful Book!

    I absoulutley loved this book! It had me on the edge of my seat from the first chapter. And i loved how it alternated chapters of the present and the past. I recomended it to all my friends and i loaned it around. EVERYONE loves it! Wonderful book! ONe of my favorites! :)

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  • Posted March 31, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Oh, Snap.

    Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson is a book that captures both the present, and the past, in a way that leads the reader on the roller coaster of a lifetime. The main character, Frances, has a very troubled past. All that we are told at first is that she is adopted, and that she doesn't enjoy remembering or having anything to do with her mother. As if this wasn't enough, soon a new boy moves to town, by the name of Nix. Their friendship is forced at first. Nix is a country boy, far too raw and different for Frances's taste. However, soon enough, the two are inseparable, and seem to fall for each other in a way that is a bit more than friendly.

    One day when she comes home, Frances sees a car parked at her adopted parents' house. This car belongs to a lawyer, named Mr. Carruthers. He gives Frances a note from her real mother, who was deemed insane eleven years before. Things quickly escalate, and Frances turns to Nix, her closest friend, for help. She tells him her story-when she was younger, her mother created her own little world. This world caused her mother to be insane to such a degree that she suffocated Frances's three younger sisters, and tried to do the same to Frances. Soon after, Frances and Nix decide to go find Frances's mother, and settle things once and for all.

    Out of ten, this book is definitely a 10. It is suspenseful; it always is fast paced, and always has a turn at the beginning and end of each chapter. The author has created an intricate web of characters, plot, and back-story that come together in such a way that nobody's left bored by the time the book is over. Personally, I could read this book over and over (and never get bored) and recommend it to every teen out there, but with a warning-you're in for an awesome ride!

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  • Posted January 21, 2009

    good book

    this book was good but not that memorable, it is hard to remember what happened throughout the book

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  • Posted December 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Story of a Girl with a Troubled Past

    ¿Shine is my name. When she talks about Fireless, I watch Momma¿s eyes. That is the way you tell if it¿s going to be okay. If her eyes change, that¿s when I get afraid¿I keep looking at her eyes as she crawls around in the creek. Momma is good at scaring things.¿ In R.A. Nelson¿s second novel, Breathe My Name, Frances Robinson is pulled back into her past. For Frances to go on with her life, she must confront the ghost of her past and search for closure. Frances has a new family with new parents and new siblings. When she was younger, Frances¿ birthmother smothered her three little sisters which completely tore apart her life and family. She was adopted by an Alabama family and struggles to live a normal life.<BR/> All is well until Frances is told that her mother has been released from prison. The only thing that could be worse is the letter she receives from her mother. ¿I need to see you. Please come right away. We have to finish.¿ Frances¿ normal life is interrupted, and her world is turned upside down. Old nightmares have now returned. They are consuming her everyday life as she sees her mother around her. <BR/> Nix, a new student from New Orleans enters her life and helps her through the new danger. He is outgoing, loud, and unconventional, everything that Frances is not. He opens her heart to new emotions and is an unyielding force in her life. Nix goes with her on her journey to the past and search for closure. Frances tries to figure out how her mother wants to finish things and what meets her is a suspenseful scene.<BR/> I read R.A. Nelson¿s first novel, Teach Me, and I loved it so much that I could not wait for this story to come out. There are similar themes in these two novels. Each character must confront their ghosts in order for them to go on with their lives. I always liked the way that Nelson wrote his stories, and this book is no different. Nelson exposes his readers to new experiences with his characters¿ lives, and their stories are poignant and heart-wrenching. <BR/>Nelson uses magnificent and clever writing in his tale of a troubled teen. He takes the horrible account of a mother killing her children and makes it realistic and one can feel Frances¿ pain. I fell in love with the characters in this story and it felt as though I went on the journey with them. Nelson¿s descriptions of the characters throughout the novel are precise. The characters brought out emotions in me that I did not think a book could do. This novel made me laugh, cry, and freeze with fear. <BR/>With this gripping novel, Nelson captures the reader from the start and never lets them go. Once I started to read this book, I couldn¿t put it down. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and excellent read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2008

    Breathe My Name

    The book Breathe My Name by R.A Nelson is extremely intriguing. In this book R.A Nelson shows how important it is to take control of your life. He shows how important it is for someone to make decisions for themselves, because only that person truly knows what is best for them. We must have closure in the past, in order to move on with our lives.<BR/> Breathe My Name is a book set in Alabama. It is the story of a teenage girl named Frances, who has a haunting past. One day at school Frances runs into a new boy named Nix, who just moved to Alabama from Louisiana. Frances and Nix become close pretty fast and their relationship quickly blossoms. In the beginning of the story, Frances tells her best friend Ann Mirette that she has decided to keep her past a secret from Nix, because there is no reason why he should know. However, Frances¿s plans change when she comes home from school one afternoon and there is a lawyer by the name of Mr. Carruthers sitting at her dining room table. He explains that he has come to deliver a letter to Frances that her mother has sent to her. Frances¿ parents try to talk her out of reading the letter, because they are afraid of what it might say, and they want to protect her. However, Frances decides that she needs to read the letter. When she reads the letter she is shocked, because the letter only contains three sentences, ¿I need to see you. Come right away. We have to finish.¿ After reading the letter, Frances decides that she has to tell Nix the truth. She explains to him that when she was younger, her mother killed her three young sisters, and also tried to kill her. She also explains that since her mother went to jail and her father couldn¿t take care of her, she was adopted by her current family. Frances then tells Nix about the letter she recently received and asks him if he will go with her to find her mother. Since Frances is overprotected, they have to go find her mother secretly. Along their journey, they encounter many people and problems, such as talking to Frances¿s dad and being able to actually contact her mother.<BR/> R.A Nelson does a fantastic job of creating suspense in this novel. The letter Frances receives from her mother is suspenseful. The letter only contains three sentences and they are, ¿I need to see you. Please come right away. We have to finish.¿ These sentences are suspenseful, because they are very vague and could mean anything. Does Frances¿ mother want to start over with a new relationship or does she want to ¿finish¿ killing her? R.A Nelson also creates suspense throughout the whole novel by creating flashbacks. Throughout the book, there are numerous chapters in which Frances reflects on her childhood when she used to live with her mother and three little sisters. The flashbacks are suspenseful, because they don¿t explain a whole lot and they are very vague and almost foggy. They are just little pieces that leave the reader wondering what really happened during her childhood. He also creates urgency during the climax of the novel by using short, choppy sentences, such as ¿Do it now. Do it with your bare hands. Kill her. Set her free.¿ This creates urgency, because these are short, incomplete thoughts that help show panic in the speaker¿s voice, and also keep the reader wanting to turn the page.<BR/> I would definitely recommend this book to others. I loved this book because it was suspenseful and a quick read. It is a thrilling story any teen would enjoy.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 18, 2008

    Breathe my name....

    Breathe my name is the best book I have read in a very long time. It was scary, romantic, funny, and rivoting. It was so so great. It reminded me of "Bridge To Terebithia", although its nothing like it at all. This is one of the greatest book I have read in a long, long time.(: P.S. You'll fall in LOVE with Nix!

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for

    Frances Robinson's story has a lot in common with several news stories in recent years. Eleven years ago, her biological mother smothered her three younger sisters, and if it hadn't been for the arrival of a total stranger, Frances might have been next. <BR/><BR/>BREATHE MY NAME picks up when Frances is eighteen and a junior in high school. She lives with her loving adoptive parents in a nice home in a nice town. She is relatively happy, but things are about to change. <BR/><BR/>First, Frances meets Nix, a new student who just moved from New Orleans. He's a bit different but strangely fascinating. As lab partners, they begin to get to know each other and share stories. But there's a story Frances can't seem to share - the story of her mother and her sisters. How do you tell someone you care about something like that? <BR/><BR/>The other change for Frances comes in the form of a letter delivered by a special messenger. It appears to be from her mother, who has been locked up for the past eleven years. She is about to be released to a group home and seems to be requesting to meet with Frances. <BR/><BR/>R. A. Nelson's BREATHE MY NAME tells the amazing story of a young girl trying to come to grips with her past and decide how to move on with the future. Readers will find themselves pulled into the lives on the pages and carried along the sometimes frightening and bumpy ride as Frances takes control of her own destiny. This book is well worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2008

    really liked it.

    you'll fall in love with nix. =] and the story is just great. what else is there to say? i would definitely say this book is worth the money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2008

    Breathe My Name!!!

    When I first told my sister about this book she said, 'why do you read such sad books?'. What she doesnt understand is that a book like 'Breathe my name' gives a view of what other people have experienced. Now not all of us will have our mothers try to kill us but we all do experience something tragic. We relate with these characters. This book will make you shake and cry and wish you could just pick 'Shine' up!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2008


    I have read Teach Me by R.A Nelson and it had to be the best book ive ever read. So when i bought Breath My Name i was more then excited to read it. The first day I read 200 pages this book has good suspense and a loving romance. I wish Nelson would write another book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2008

    It was amazing.

    I LOVED IT!!!! It was an easy read but very interesting too. I recommend to anybody who likes suspense.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    This was an awesome book. it is very thrilling and brings something that rarely comes to mind life. i love this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2007

    Breathe My Name

    I Loved this book!! It was very good!! It really draws you in!!! YOU Should READ THIS BOOK!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2008

    a good suspense

    In the beginning it tells of a girl who meets a strange boy then you get into her past and find out that her mother did something really terrible. Though the author doesn't tell you what it is for a few chapters and in the end she ends up almost getting killed after visiting her mother.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Breath my Name was a great book

    I think Breathe my Name was a good book. I liked how Nix (Frances boyfriend) shares his life with her. He tells her about his brother that has special needs and how it affected him. His past makes him very strong and this is exactly what Frances needs to get through her situation. I liked how it tells you about Frances¿ past. There are a few things I didn¿t like about this book. I didn¿t like how in the beginning it kept on switching from present day to Frances¿ past this caused me to get lost a little bit. But towards the middle of the book it gets easier to understand, and gets really good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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