Try Not to Breathe

( 7 )

Overview

Along she came…
Everyday, Ryan Turner must face the reality that everyone knows what he did. It’s in they way they speak to him. It’s in the way they look at him. Ryan’s only solace comes from the local waterfall, where the violent crashing of the water clears his mind of everything.

But then one day, a girl named Nicki Thornton throws herself into his solitary world. Nicki is direct about his past and determined to crash through the wall of ...

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Overview

Along she came…
Everyday, Ryan Turner must face the reality that everyone knows what he did. It’s in they way they speak to him. It’s in the way they look at him. Ryan’s only solace comes from the local waterfall, where the violent crashing of the water clears his mind of everything.

But then one day, a girl named Nicki Thornton throws herself into his solitary world. Nicki is direct about his past and determined to crash through the wall of glass that Ryan has put between himself and others. She seeks answers to questions that she knows only Ryan can understand. Nicki dives deeper into his life, opening his heart and getting closer to the shameful secrets that he has tried to bury. Though Ryan knows he does not have all of the answers that she seeks, but he realizes that he may have found an answer to his own questions in her.

“Haunting, hopeful and masterfully crafted”—Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her second novel, Hubbard (The Secret Year) compellingly portrays the quiet anguish of “after.” Sixteen-year-old Ryan has endured too much in a year—a new school, mono, romantic rejection, and a suicidal gesture that sends him to a psychiatric facility. Now he is coping with the reality that there is no tidy closure to these events, much less a happy ending. He has to go back to school, to the same parents, and to adolescence, and nothing has gotten easier while he’s been gone. His only friends are the ones he made in the hospital, and the “Patterson Honesty” they communicated with there has given way to more socially palatable half-lies. The kids at school, meanwhile, just sneak glances at him or mock him as “creepy.” Then he befriends Nicki—younger, bolder, and persistent—who demands that Ryan put into words what he has gone through, and everything starts to change. Hubbard is outstandingly successful at capturing the frustration of not having the words, especially in a culture that does not encourage boys to express what Ryan is feeling. Ages 14–up. Agent: Curtis Brown. (Jan.)
VOYA - Susan Allen
Drawn together after his failed suicide attempt, Ryan and Nicki connect through a local waterfall, where her personality becomes the rock that shatters his wall of glass as they search for answers together. Returning to high school, Ryan is shunned by his classmates. As he adjusts to life at home once again, Ryan yearns for small doses of danger and stands under the deadly waterfall. Here, Nicki seeks him out to discover the motivations behind his suicide attempt, as well as the reason for her own father's suicide. The two build a close friendship while enduring some disagreements, about everything from Val, Ryan's crush in rehab, to Nicki's dishonesty. Although many of the characters are believable individually or in relation to the main character, the depression that occupies the majority of the novel is not plausible. The reading level seems to be intended for middle school, but the themes are geared more toward high school readers. The few sexual references and coarse language should be edited out to make it more appropriate for younger readers, or the subject matter should be further developed so that high school readers can have something more to address. The ending of the story is slightly disappointing because there is not a lot of emotion. The theme of the story, emotional honesty, is relevant to many readers. The author conveys the message that there is something to live for and things will get better. Reviewer: Susan Allen
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—A family move; a bout with mono; and the harsh, insensitive words of a classmate push a 16-year-old loner to the extreme. It's the summer after his suicide attempt and Ryan is fresh out of a stint at a psychiatric hospital. He hangs out in the woods, often under a waterfall where the cold shock and the force of the water bring relief. He develops a relationship with Nicki, a free-spirited girl with secrets of her own, who is drawn to Ryan because she believes he can help her understand her father's suicide years earlier. Ryan's story is related in the first person, and Hubbard has a genuine knack for getting inside the mind of an angst-filled teen. Flashbacks reveal the hurt, self-loathing, and anguish that caused him to try to end his life. Ryan, Nicki, Ryan's friends from the hospital, and his mom are all believable characters with raw emotions that are palpable. The affecting story addresses issues of real concern without being maudlin. It is well paced and includes a bit of a twist near the end. This poignant novel about a sensitive teen trying to find his spot in the world will definitely find a YA readership. Suggest it to those who loved Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why (Penguin, 2007).—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Evocative symbols, carefully drawn details and hints of romance enrich a spare, redemptive character study. Home from a stay at Patterson Hospital following a suicide attempt, Ryan hikes to a powerful waterfall each morning to stand under the crushing spray. Nicki, the younger sister of a boy Ryan knows from school, sees him there one day in August and strikes up a conversation. For the first time, Ryan finds himself opening up to someone besides the two Patterson friends he now talks to by phone and online. As trust, familiarity and perhaps attraction build between the two, Ryan and Nicki reveal pieces of their personal histories, though each still harbors secrets. Defying both sensationalism and cliché, the narrative explores Ryan's suicide attempt and its aftermath with what Ryan calls "Patterson Honesty: the truth, stripped down of all formalities, all politeness." Although much is made of understanding the past--the shame and numbness that led to Ryan's attempt, the unknowable reasons behind Nicki's father's completed suicide--the story is also about moving forward: Can intimacies built inside a place like Patterson survive outside? How can the parents of a teen who attempts suicide trust their child again? What can we ever truly know about ourselves and each other? Haunting, hopeful and masterfully crafted. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142423875
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 1/24/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 450,650
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer R. Hubbard is the author of The Secret Year. She lives and writes near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(1)

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 3, 2012

    Great Novel about the healing process

    I was so excited to read Try Not to Breathe. It sounded heartbreaking yet so good. Try Not to Breathe was different than I expected, but it was still good.

    Try Not to Breathe wasn't as hard to read as I thought it would be. Considering the subject matter, it was surprisingly not hard to get through. It was still heartbreaking in its own way, but it wasn't super intense. I appreciated this a lot, because the subject of suicide can be a very difficult topic to tackle.

    I was expecting this book to be more romantic than it was. Not that this is a bad thing. It is more of a story about healing. Not just for the main character, Ryan, but for others such as Nicki herself, and Ryan's friends Val and Jake.

    I grew to like Jake. His own story and past wasn't very intense, but I still felt for him. And I think he really grew during this book. Nicki wasn't my favorite part of the book. She seemed immature at times, which put me off a bit. But I grew to feel for her and like her. I kind of wish we could have seen more of Val's and Jake's story, especially Jake. I would have liked to see a little more of Jake's healing process.

    Overall, Try Not to Breathe was a very heartbreaking novel. I loved seeing everyone's healing process.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2013

    What is this book about?????????????

    What is this book about?????????????

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Hawk

    Us res 4

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  • Posted June 23, 2012

    this book was kind of what i expected but not at the same time i

    this book was kind of what i expected but not at the same time if tht makes sense. i loved Nicki and i loved her spunk and her determination.

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  • Posted June 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This was my first Jennifer Hubbard read and it was pretty good!

    This was my first Jennifer Hubbard read and it was pretty good! It was an extremely well written, moving story, but it did leave me wanting in parts, which is something I frequently say about Realistic Fiction - Psychology/Mental Health books, I'm not sure why, but there always just feels like there are little holes left over when I finish.

    TRY NOT TO BREATHE was, in my opinion and I’m no expert, an extremely accurate portal of suicide and the ripple effect it has from that person on throughout their family, friends, town, school, etc. When I first started reading I didn’t feel like I was going to connect with Ryan at all, but as the story progressed I clutched to him. Which worked well, it allowed that reader/character relationship to grow in a natural way, allowing myself/readers to take their time to understand and feel what the character is feeling and develop and understanding of their personality and how they deal. I really loved Ryan’s quirky attitude about everything, it really helped to take what could have been an extremely dark book (which would have been good too) and brought light to it, kept me smiling while still gripping the emotion behind his story. And, if Ryan didn’t give me a good chuckle in the moment, well, I’m sure Nikki took that moment over! I loved Nikki, and while I’m usually a die-hard rooter for the “person who saw them first” (which wasn’t Nikki) Nikki stole this race for me. The combination of issues between the two of them was a perfect weaving of mystery, suspense, sadness, pain and hope, keeps you on the edge of your seat for a very hilly emotional roller coaster.

    The overall most amazing thing about this book for me was Jennifer Hubbard’s ability to cover such a tough, rash subject. There is never any rhyme or reason that individuals commit suicide, and by that I mean that there is typically no real “tell” sign, no real understanding and very little similarity from situation to situation. Hubbard’s story was spectacular in relaying not only that, but the importance of the people around you and how to lean on one another for support. It was…sad…and I should really say happy…but having dealt with my own issues, I know there is never no end to the need for support, so while you do get some sort of good ending to the book, you know that Ryan and Nikki’s journeys are far from over.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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